Thursday, April 30, 2009

Take better notes

Mr. Abernathy by Tony Delgrosso.

I bought this online after scooping out Delgrosso's twitter and tumblr page. He's a super funny guy and writes some really great short pieces. I ordered his book from this website:

This book is a mystery, involving a modern day young man in search of who his late father really was. Now I'm not much of a mystery reader, but the first chapter had me hooked.

The book brings together a few different story lines at once. I love reading pieces of the story from one time, then from another, building you up to a conclusion that anchors the separate stories together. Delgrosso does a very good job of capturing these different points of view without being distracting. The characters are interesting and authentic.

There are no real quotes that stuck out to me in this one. The story was fast paced and not bogged down by a lot of flowery sentences. However, there were some scenes that definitely caught me by the throat. I don't want to ruin anything though, because there are a few twists in the book.

This is a book that I am going to have to reread. I really enjoyed it and would highly suggest it to anyone. There is mystery, action, romance, and heartache. Check it out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Is it a pony?

I read this on my plane ride over to Italy instead of sleeping on the plane like I should have. This book is a collection of short essays about life for a young woman.

Right off the bat, the first essay really got me. "The Pony Problem" is about how Sloane always seems to get some type of pony figurine from her boyfriends and keeps them under her sink because she can't bring herself to get rid of them. She can't stop thinking what would happen if she died and her parents found her pony collection.

Oregon Trail, cookies shaped like bad bosses, and the pain of being a bridesmaid to a girl you hardly know make up some of the other essays. The book is a good read, nothing too heavy. A good vacation book.

"I figured a one-night stand happened when two people. one of whom was a woman, went to a man's apartment for martinis and stood on the bed the entire time, trying not to spill them." page 99.

Friday, April 24, 2009

New on the shelves

Just wanted to let you all know the books I bought this week that are now gracing my book shelves.

I bought one book while I was on vacation because the brothers would not let me go into any books stores. I only managed to sneak away once to one when we were sitting around some plaza waiting for my dad. I'm so glad I did though because I found a copy of the Master and Margarita as a graphic novel. There was no way I was leaving the store without it.

Back home I stopped at Half Price the other day and picked up a few things. I was looking for some history books on various revolutions and found The Age of Revolution by Eric Hobsawm.

I also bought Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, The Diary of Anais Nin Volume I, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, Equus by Peter Shaffer and The American Dream and Zoo Story by Edward Albee.

I did buy one book online before I left for vacation that I opened this week. This is one I am really excited about reading - I read the first chapter last night and loved it. Mr. Abernathy by Tony Delgrosso. He's someone I follow on twitter and tumblr. Anyway, his book isn't on amazon but you can check him out for yourself on his website:

I'm way behind on my book reviews. I've just been so lazy this week after the stress of vacationing with one's family. Expect a lot of them this weekend though.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

French Milk

I picked up French Milk by Lucy Knisley along with I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley the day before I left for Italy. French Milk is described as a comic journal. It's the story of a girl who goes to Paris with her mother and lives there for a little over a month.

I've actually been meaning to pick this up for awhile. I stumbled across Lucy's blog one day and love her artwork. Her website is; check it out she's pretty awesome. She makes me giggle and want to kick myself into my own creative frenzy.

Anyway, back to her book. I liked it. I did feel like she didn't really deliver on the coming of age turmoil/deeper issues of facing adulthood, but she got me super excited about travelling and (sort of) excited about growing up. And really made me want to try fois gras. Her drawings were wonderful and the photos were beautiful. I read this in only a couple hours and then passed it on to my mom. She said she really enjoyed it too.

Perfect book if you are going to Europe and want a quick read to get you in the mood.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A blast from my blogging past or something

So I was randomly checking out my older book blog - which was over on livejournals and thought I might post up an old entry every now and then, you know, for fun. I think I tend to be seriously snarky and a little less formal over there on livejournal, but that's starting to bleed into this blog too. You people can deal with it though, you're cool.

So here is one that pretty much sums up a lot about myself. Its about Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. There are some serious spoilers, but if you haven't heard how this books ends by now I'm guessing you are not going to read this anyway! I like this review - so I hope you do to.

BTW this is from December 10th of last year. And the link to my old livejournal is here in case you were wondering.

I was talking Harry Potter to one of the girls I work with at Barnes and we both agreed that this is our favorite book. I love so much about it, especially the flash backs to Voldemort’s past. I am kind of in love with J. K.’s writing.

The first chapter starts off with the regular British Prime Minister getting the low down on the mishaps of the wizarding world. This ends with perhaps the best exchange between a wizard and muggle throughout the whole series:

“But for heaven’s sake - you’re wizards! You can do magic! Surely you can sort out – well – anything!”

….”The trouble is, the other side can do magic too, Prime Minister.” (page 24).

Harry gets more time with Dumbledore in this book than in any other book (I’m pretty sure) which is a good thing considering the ending…dun dun dunnnnnnnn. Harry is also super obsessed with Malfoy which gets his face smashed in right away. And we learn OMG Snape finally gets the Defense Against the Dark Arts post! In the potions class we see Felix Felicis, or liquid luck. I could use some right about now! Although it is lucky that I got a snow day and thus have time to post. Anyway, Harry has a mysterious used potions book that helps him win the potion and teaches us that used books are super sweet.

We see the first memory about Voldemort’s origins, the Gaunts. Merope, a squib, or at least a witch who isn’t very good at magic, is Tom Riddle’s mother and is horribly treated. In fact, her father and brother treat her much like the Dursleys treat Harry. And (as we learn in book 7) Dumbledore also had a squib(ish) relative that was put down upon as well. So we have a connection between the three of them again. Throughout the series we see the comparison between Harry and Voldemort, but only after reading book seven are we (or at least am I) able to make big connections between the two of them and Dumbledore. Or at least the similarities are more pronounced to me. But I’ll get into that next time.

Back to Hogwarts, we get more of the kids actually growing up and girls noticing them! More specifically, Lavender trying to get Ron’s attention. And let’s face it, if you had to live in the shadow of Harry Potter, the fact that any girl had eyes for only you would be super exciting (even if it isn’t Hermione). I feel bad for Lavender throughout this book only because this kind of stupid relationship happens to a lot of young people. You get in a relationship with someone you don’t even really like, but neither of them really know how to end the damn thing.

One cool thing about this book is that Aragog is back – not that I like giant spiders – but this does bring the whole theory of parallels in the series. This being that book 1 and 7 parallel each other, books 2 and 6, books 3 and 5, and finally book 4 the center. Aragog is a central part of book two, both in the now and in Hagrid and Tom Riddle’s past, and his death is a very important part of book six. Well done J.K.

We get more of Tom Riddle, now as a child at the orphanage. And I have to wonder, if Harry had not been sent to his Aunt Petunia and had been dropped at an orphanage, would he have turned out the same? Tom wants power over the other children (the quest and obsession for power is a big theme) and Harry has no power growing up. I just would think that if you are all alone in the world and find you have magical abilities as a child, it would be hard not to become a bully like Tom, since he has no one to set him straight.

Ginny gets some action in the hall until Ron and Harry interrupt and Ron flips. Now, I have younger siblings and yeah that would be gross to walk into them making out but I don’t know that I would be so pissed. But Harry realizes that he’s into Ginny now. Again, in this book and in the second, she is an extremely dominant character. Only now she gets a great make out scene with Harry.

Even with Fudge gone, the ministry still sucks. The minister is too focused on getting Harry to play ball instead of oh let’s say – hunting down Voldemort. But then again, that would be a lot of work. Got to leave something for your second term. AND – isn’t it a little bit like our fearless leader not looking for Osama and just diverting everyone’s attention to something else.

Ron gets poisoned and my heart breaks for a moment. Thankfully it gets Hermione to talk to him again and he realizes that maybe he should break up with Lav Lav. Harry uses a bit of the Felix Felicis, and gets the memory from the new potions professor. We get a lot more mention of Lily, Harry’s momma which is a shift from the first few books I think. We get so much of how Harry is like James in his recklessness and ability at Quidditch, but now it seems more and more that Lily’s connection to Harry is becoming more prominent.

This is getting super long and I haven’t even mentioned Horcruxes. Tom Riddle broke his soul into seven pieces in order to keep himself as immortal as possible. The soul being such a mysterious intangible thing already, the thought of breaking it into pieces (though murder) is a little sickening. We also learn that Snape was the one to overhear Trelawney give the prophecy to Dumbledore. Harry (rightfully so) flips his shit and goes nuts. But (once we read book seven) you have to feel so, so awful for Snape since he did not know that in doing so he was handing over the life of the woman he loved more than anything. Angst!

The book ends with Dumbledore and Harry going after a Horcrux in the cave – which will be freaking amazing on film. This also has one of the best and saddest lines ever:

“I am not worried, Harry,” Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water, “I am with you.” (540)

Dumbledore is weak and they return to the Dark Mark over Hogwarts. Malfoy threatens to kill Dumbledore but can’t follow through, and I feel a little bad for the kid. Life can’t be too great when your dad is in jail and an evil whack-a-doo is threatening you mom. But Snape pulls the trigger and kills Dumbledore. And my heart breaks again.

At the big battle at the end the only one who is really hurt is Bill Weasley who now loves raw meat and having his ears scratched. Molly assumes Fluer isn’t going to marry him but haughty French girl takes control and the two finally accept each other. Nothing brings a girl and her future mother-in-law together than the boy being attacked by a werewolf.

At the end, Harry sticks it to the man at Dumbledore’s funeral, breaks up with Ginny so she doesn’t get killed and he, Ron and Hermione decide to drop out of school to hunt down those Horcruxes.

Book Meme

1. Hardback, trade paperback or mass market paperback? I'd go with trade paper if it is something that's been around awhile. I grab hardback's if they're new.

2. Barnes & Noble or Borders? I worked at Barnes & Noble (and still do during holidays) so I got to go with them. Plus the one I work at is one of the biggest in the US and one of five (or four, cannot remember) with a used book section. And they have some of the best people to work with.

3. Bookmark or dog-ear? bookmarks, which don't have to be real bookmarks. My book here at work has a post-it

4. Amazon or brick and mortar? real deal baby

5. Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random? This is a big deal. Right now I don't like how my books are organized because I just have too many for the bookcases I have. I tried to do alphabetical but then I would find another box of books and get really frustrated. Right now, in two of my bookcases I have them mostly alphabetical, with poetry and plays separate. I also have a bookcase that is pretty random. The one in my room has all my Russian lit, alphabetical, and favorite books, arranged randomly.

6. Keep, throw away, or sell? keep

7. Keep dust jacket or toss it? Keep that sucker.

8. Read with dust jacket or remove it? I usually just leave them on.

9. Short story or novel? I read more novels but I love a good short story. Nine Stories is one of my favorites.

10. Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? don't even get me started on how much I love Harry Potter.

11. Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? If I have to stop I do so at chapter breaks or at least when there is a break in the chapter. Although I have a hard time stopping.

12. "It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"? "Once upon a time"

13. Buy or borrow? Nine times out of ten I buy. Every now and then I borrow, but usually only from my dad or my friend Liz.

14. New or used? I love used books.

15. Buying choice: book reviews, recommendations, or browse? Browsing mostly. I'll go on recommendations from a few people with similar tastes every now and then. I have picked up some from book reviews, but not a whole lot.

16. Tidy ending or cliffhanger? hm I like endings that aren't quite tidy, but I wouldn't call them cliffhangers. I really don't know how to describe it other than how Foer's novels tend to end. Or Catcher in the Rye. I'm not sure.

17. Morning reading, afternoon reading, or nighttime reading? I am usually reading any time I'm not at work or around my friends.

18. Stand-alone or series? Both.

19. Favorite series? Harry Potter

20. Favorite children's book? The Giving Tree

21. Favorite YA book? The Giver

22. Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? hm, Winkie by Chase

23. Favorite books read last year? A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Smith, On Writing - King, A Gentle Madness - Basbanes, The Collector - Fowles, In Cold Blood - Capote, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Foer, Wuthering Heights - Bronte, A Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing - Bank, and the Twilight books.

24. Favorite books of all time? The Master and Margarita - Bulgakov, Pride and Prejudice - Austen, Cat's Cradle - Vonnegut, Anna Karenina - Tolstoy, and The Sound and the Fury - Faulkner.

25. What are you reading right now? Consider the Lobster and other essays by Wallace, The Stuff of Thought (still!) by Pinker, and I just started Grendel by Gardner

26. What are you reading next? Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land by Crowley, Rabbit, Run by Updike, and War And Peace by Tolstoy (my man).

28. Favorite book to reread? Pride and Prejudice or HP

29. Do you ever smell books? Sometimes.

30. Do you ever read Primary source documents? um not really

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Embodied Instruments of Fate

I know I've been slacking lately, sorry sorry! I read this one sometime last week, in only a day or two. I have read Age of Innocence by Wharton and loved, loved it. This is the second book by her that I have read.

To me, this book is not to the same level as Age of Innocence. We get the classic start of the narrator coming to a town and seeing a peculiar gentleman, thus filling him with desire to learn everything about him (see Wuthering Heights - though Ethan would be a bit more likable to most than Heathcliff). Wharton seems to love writing books about people in love who are never able to get it together. Which I love.

Ethan is married to Zeena, who is a hellish woman obsessed with how sick she is. I mean, thank god those two didn't have kids or Zeena would be that mom who pours drain-o in the babie's soup just so she could get some attention. Anyway, she's "sick" and has her cousin Mattie stay with them to help around the house. Of course Ethan is in love with Mattie. Ethan is tied to his family farm and his sick wife so he's all around unable to achieve a real life of his own.

I've noticed on that this book has tons of low ratings due to it being about as depressing as can be. Which it is. But, there's got to be some beauty in despair and doomed situations. Otherwise why would anyone read Romeo and Juliet? For whatever reason I'm more drawn to love stories that don't quite work out so well, so I enjoyed this one.

As I expected, Wharton's writing was wonderful. She's able to capture nuances of behavior very well. Her descriptions of the landscape are also pretty boss.

In short, I would suggest reading Age of Innocence over Ethan Frome. However, if you are the type who drools over Wuthering Heights (like me!) then pick this up and prepare for some angst.

Lines that I loved:

"But since he had seen her lips in the lamplight he felt that they were his." - 57

"It was a shy secret spot, full of the same dumb melancholy that Ethan felt in his heart." - 153

"they seemed to come suddenly upon happiness as if they had surprised a butterfly in the winter woods... "154
page numbers from some random old edition I have - not the one pictured.