Friday, December 30, 2011

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

Title: The Devil Wears Prada
Author: Lauren Weisberger
Publisher: Broadway Books
Pages: 360
Rating: 2/5 Stars

Although I've never seen the movie, the hype surrounding it has made it impossible for me not to have heard about The Devil Wears Prada. A friend gave me the book years ago (years after the movie came out) and since chick lit is not my genre of choice it took me another few years to finally read it.

I think I could have kept waiting.

I have to give Lauren Weisberger credit because even though I found the main character completely annoying by the end, I still wanted to see what happened. As a story, The Devil Wears Prada was pretty refreshing for the genre. Andrea isn't a complete and total trainwreck, searching for Mr. Right in order for her life to be complete. She already has Mr. Right - or at least thinks she does - in her college boyfriend Alex. Andrea's parents aren't completely out of touch idiots. Andrea is not perfect - she smokes, drinks to excess at times, swears, succumbs to the glamorous perks of her job, lies when she has to, is a bitch when it serves her and in general is remarkably with it for the heroine of a chick lit novel.

Bridget Jones she's not. Thank god.

In the beginning of the novel, I liked Andrea. I actually liked all the characters, even the ones who were supposed to be horrible. I sympathized with Andrea and even congratulated her for understanding that at the beginning of ones career, sacrifices have to be made, butts have to be kissed and someone has to do the grunt work. She wasn't afraid to pay her dues. She also wasn't stupid and took advantage of a position at Runway - even though fashion is not her thing - in the hopes that it would let reduce her dues paying time down to one year instead of five. Okay, so far I congratulate her for her ingenuity as well as her determination and realistic outlook.

The problem, I discovered about halfway through the book, was not the plot, it's the characters. I soon grew to hate them. The first to go were Andrea's best friend Lily and her boyfriend Alex. For two people who supposedly knew Andrea better than anybody, they turned on her really freaking quick. Yes, Miranda Priestly was a ridiculous boss. Yes, Andrea's job was basically 24/7 slavery that meant she often had to cancel plans at the last minute and in general be unavailable to her friends a lot of the time.

You know what, though?

Alex and Lily knew this going into it. Nobody lied to Andrea about the demands of the job she was accepting and she certainly didn't hold back when talking about it to her friends. Plus, all involved knew it was only for a year. This wasn't a career for Andrea, it was a job, a stepping stone to help her get her career started. Thus, I ran out of patience for Alex and Lily's whining about Andrea's lack of availability pretty quickly. I didn't think it fair to support Andrea's decision in theory and then turn on her when the actuality of it wasn't acceptable to them. I don't think Alex or Lily should have put their lives on hold while they waited for Andrea's year of servitude to end, but I also think they had obiligations to her as a friend as well that they seemed to forget when they felt she'd slighted them. I intensely disliked Lily's neediness and Alex's guilt-tripping preachiness.

Plus, fyi, Ms. Weisberger, Andrea is not responsible for how Lily chooses to deal with her issues. Insinuating that Andrea's job demands were in some way to blame for Lily's choices is unfair and untrue. Lily needed to grow up and it wasn't Andrea's job to make it happen.

By the end of the book, however, most of my goodwill toward Andrea had disappeared in light of her attitude toward the fashion industry, her co-workers and her boss, as well as her overall sense of entitlement. In the beginning I understood that getting used to Miranda would have been a challenge - especially for Andrea, being a relative outsider to the fashion industry. I can see how the importance these people placed upon Fashion - yes, that's Fashion with a capitol F - would have seemed ridiculous and strange to her. Eleven months in, however, her disdain read as arrogance and I was done with her.

Andrea's unwavering antipathy for the Fashion industry was grating. I understand that she wasn't into it and found it all ridiculous, but the way she let it be known that she considered herself above such pettiness was so rude and disrespectful I lost all patience with her. Fashion may be irrelevant to you, Andrea, but it is not to the people at Runway who want to be there. Judging them for what you deem shallow and materialistic concerns is just as bad as them judging you for not wearing the right shoes with the right dress.

Now, I'm not going to lie, I wouldn't want to work for Miranda. The demands she placed upon...basically everyone were ridiculous. But that's what bosses do, especially the ones who are so far from where they started that they've lost all touch with the reality of being the lowest person on the totem pole. Andrea's incredulity toward Miranda made sense in the beginning, but by the time she had her meltdown in Paris it was just pathetic. Yes, Andrea, your boss's demands are outlandish, humiliating and inconsiderate, but it's not your job to tell her that, it's your job to accomdate them. You're getting paid. You're not doing Miranda a favor by showing up for work everyday, you're receiving money for a service you agreed to perform. Get over your entitled self.

Now, I realize that Andrea is young and as a result might not immediately understand that life is a lot different than college. I could forgive her for the entitled attitude if I felt that by the end she learned from her experience, but she hadn't. All she had was a sense of relief that she was free from Miranda's dictatorship.

This review is quickly becoming a rant, so I'll bring it to a close by saying that I think Lauren Weisberger is a talented storyteller. Given the fact that the only two characters I liked by the end were Miranda and Emily - the supposedly evil ones - I think she needs to work on her characters.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Title: Personal Demons
Author: Lisa Derochers
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 365
Rating: 3 Stars

I really wanted to give this 3.5 stars. Personal Demons started out really, really well and I was reading it super fast - always a good sign. I enjoyed Frannie and loved Luc. I'm a sucker for a leather jacket and a pierced eyebrow. ;p The fact that he registered emotions as scents was a little odd and could have been awkward in its obvious attempt to be 'different', but for the most part it worked.

Although, I've never thought of ginger as being particularly lustful.

Lisa Desrochers walked the fine line of being a book about religious themes without becoming a religious book and I appreciated that. The only character that ever preached at me was Frannie's younger sister Grace and she was supposed to be zealous, so it worked.

I kind of felt like the switches between Luc and Frannie's first person POV were cheating a little, but I really liked getting into both of their heads, so I let it slide.

The only problem I had with the book was Gabe. I understand why his character was important. There needed to be a player from Heaven in the mix, not only to give Luc a little competition, but to save Frannie. As much as I like the badboy, this was not a book where Hell was some misunderstood place for castoffs and outsiders. It was Hell in every sense of the word. Frannie did NOT belong there.

The issue comes with the fact that I never got a clear picture of Gabe's feelings for Frannie until I was told - by Luc - that yes, he was in love with her and yes, he'd risk his wings for her. That's all well and good and I was expecting as much, but having to be told something I should have been shown is never good. I think Ms. Derochers made a mistake with Gabe in one of two ways - either he shouldn't have really fallen for Frannie or she should have written from his POV as well.

I was hoping it would come out that while Gabe sincerely cared about Frannie and wanted her safe, the way he made her feel was all a ruse - that Gabe was pushing his power on her to woo her like Luc did to humans. Given the fact that we don't get a Gabe POV, I think this would have been the better way to go. In the sequel, Ms. Desrochers could have delved into Gabe's love for Frannie and surprised everybody with the fact that he really was in love with her.

Ms. Desrochers writing style was very accessible and easy to read. Personal Demons had quite a few references to Top 40 Pop which is fine, but it will date the book in a couple of years - it kind of already did - and I'm not sure that's worth the risk, so to speak.

While I'm not surprised there's a sequel, the book ends in a very satisfying way, so I'm curious where the next installment will take us. I'm assuming we'll learn more about how Frannie is supposed to use her Sway and how Luc deals with being human - a plot point I'm rather 'meh' about, but I'll deal with it as long as he doesn't lose his edge.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes

Title: The Lodger
Author: Marie Belloc Lowndes
Publisher: Academy Chicago Publishers
Pages: 224
Rating: 4/5 Stars

I cannot believe how long it took me to read this. Really, it had nothing to do with the book and everything to do with other things occupying my attention.

I have an unhealthy fascination with true crime. I could watch Investigation Discovery 24/7 much to the dismay of my roommate - then again, she could watch Grey's Anatomy and Ugly Betty 24/7 with a healthy dose of Say Yes To The Dress thrown in there to torment me, so I'd say we're even - so it should come as no surprise that I'd be equally interested in reading what is considered to be the first true crime novel.

Written by a woman, no less.

I'm not a feminist in the strictest sense, but I love the fact that The Lodger was written by a woman. Considering the times Ms. Lowndes lived in, I find it wonderful that she was able to get this novel published.

The Lodger is a very obvious homage to the most notorious unsolved serial killer in London at the time - Jack the Ripper. Told mostly through the third person perspective of Mrs. Bunting - half of a married couple on the brink of financial disaster - The Lodger tells the story of The Avenger. A madman stalking the streets of London at night and savagely killing immoral women, specifically those who enjoy a little too much alcohol.

From the beginning, Ms. Lowndes leads the reader to suspect Mr. Sleuth, Mrs. Bunting's lodger who's serendipitous arrival saves the Bunting household from financial ruin, of being the perpetrator of The Avenger crimes. The point of the story is less who-dun-it and more psychological rollercoaster as we take the journey with Mrs. Bunting from mild suspicion to outright certainty that her savior is actually a psychotic killer. By the time the ending arrives - a marvelously open-ended conclusion - Mrs. Bunting is on the brink of complete emotional and physical breakdown.

Questions go unanswered in The Lodger: where did Mr. Sleuth get his money? What were his motivations? What experiments was he conducting in the second room he was renting from the Buntings? Still, I was not left unsatisfied. Perhaps it was from reading the entire book knowing Mr. Sleuth was the killer or perhaps it was my desire for Mrs. Bunting to get some relief from her emotional torment, but when Mr. Sleuth finally disappeared into the busy streets of London, I was simply glad to see him go. Mrs. Bunting wasn't the most likable character I'd ever read, but she was a good person and Ms. Lowndes did a marvelous job of making me understand her desperation and fear from the very first page.

From a technical standpoint, The Lodger did not feel as dated as I expected. I found it a very easy read, not bogged down by descriptions of the scenery or daily life as some pre-television/movie classics can be. Ms. Lowndes's pacing was also excellent, in my opinion, and she did not drag her story out unnecessarily. What's really commendable, though, is her characterization and using some truly horrific crimes as a framework for a psychological horror story.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Back to the Books Giveaway Winner!

Wow. This certainly took me long enough. So sorry the announcement was delayed, but rest assured I let the winner know on September 8th.

Congrats to Ceri! She is the winner of my very first Giveaway Hop and an ARC copy of Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson!

Thanks to everybody who participated and started following me. Keep an eye out for my next giveaway!

Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Title: Never Let Me Go
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Publisher: Vintage Books
Pages: 288
Rating: 4/5 Stars

There is something beautiful about this book and for that I commend Ishiguro. Never Let Me Go transcends genres in that it has notes of science fiction, mystery, suspense, romance, coming-of-age, politics and religion. I've never read anything quite like it.

Ishiguro tells his story through the eyes of Kathy, a woman who calls herself a carer and her two best friends, Ruth and Tommy. We learn of Kathy, Ruth and Tommy's idyllic childhood at a boarding school called Hailsham, then their lives at The Cottages and finally the centers. From the start, there's something different about these children and their lives, something vaguely foreboding, but Ishiguro is in no hurry to tell us as he creates his world bit by bit.

Ishiguro is a master at dolling out information judiciously, which is what makes this novel a suspenseful pageturner without any of the tropes of a bestselling thriller. We first hear about donors, carers, centers and completing in a casual way as they are just part of Kathy, Ruth and Tommy's life. As the true nature of these terms comes to light and as Kathy, Ruth and Tommy leave the sheltered confines of Hailsham and The Cottages for the real world, the darker aspects of their existence push to the forefront and the reader finally has their suspicions confirmed.

To be honest, I can't decide what Never Let Me Go is trying to say. Is it a commentary on the advancement of science and technology at the expense of humanity? Is it trying to ascertain whether there's a difference between life and the soul? Is it pushing or dismissing the idea that life is pointless? Perhaps it's a warning of how easily human beings can be indoctrinated to just accept what they're told without question. This is certainly what stuck in my mind the most as I came upon the end and Kathy and Tommy went to see Madame about a deferral. Obviously, these students understood their fate enough to wish for a way out, so why didn't anybody ever try to run?

Maybe that's the story of someone else, someone who didn't go to Hailsham.

Maybe Never Let Me Go is none of the above and at its core is a creative attempt to prove that regardless of ones origin and environment, we're all connected by the same flaws and weaknesses and that - to quote The Beatles - love is all we need.

As I said, I don't know and I've come to the conclusion I don't need to pick just one message. Never Let Me Go made me think about a lot of things and that's what I'm going to focus on. It has made me want to read other books by Kazou Ishiguro.

A few things of technical note - I wasn't a huge fan of Ishiguro's dialogue. I appreciate the fact that I'm American and he's English, but even so, there were many times when I felt the conversations were odd or stilted because of the dialogue. There were also times I found myself somewhat distracted by the very distinctive way he wrote Kathy. It's very much a stream of consciousness and while I was never confused, I occasionally had a moment of annoyance over the lack of proper grammar. Don't let that stop you from reading it, though. It never made me consider abandoning the book.

As I reached the end, arriving at the only conclusion that would serve the book, I expected to feel sad or angry at the fates of Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, but I didn't. As I said, there's something beautiful in this book, despite the unfairness and in some ways horrifically amoral circumstances. Rather than focusing on what she would never have, Kathy did what so many of us can't and focused on the beauty she'd been lucky enough to experience.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Back to the Books" Giveaway Hop!

This giveaway hop is hosted by the awesome people from I'm A Reader, Not A Writer and Buried In Books. It will run September 1st - 7th, 2011. A winner will be chosen on September 8th, 2011.


An ARC copy of Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Description from goodreads:

'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me ...' Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine's life.

Link to my review here. *Warning! Contains very slight spoilers!*

The Rules:

1. Must be a public GFC follower and comment on this post. (I will be checking!) This is my first giveaway and I'm keeping it simple for my own sake. :D

2. Must have a valid address. I will ship international.

3. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email announcing their win. After that I will pick another winner.

Bonus Entries:

+3 for replying to any of my reviews

+2 tweet about this contest (must provide link and include my handle: @fallinangelz21)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm waiting on...

The Rivals by Daisy Whitney

Amazon description:

When Alex Patrick was assaulted by another student last year, her elite boarding school wouldn't do anything about it. This year Alex is head of the Mockingbirds, a secret society of students who police and protect the student body. While she desperately wants to live up to the legacy that's been given to her, she's now dealing with a case unlike any the Mockingbirds have seen before.

It isn't rape. It isn't bullying. It isn't hate speech. A far-reaching prescription drug ring has sprung up, and students are using the drugs to cheat. But how do you try a case with no obvious victim? Especially when the facts don't add up, and each new clue drives a wedge between Alex and the people she loves most: her friends, her boyfriend, and her fellow Mockingbirds.

As Alex unravels the layers of deceit within the school, the administration, and even the student body the Mockingbirds protect, her struggle to navigate the murky waters of vigilante justice may reveal more about herself than she ever expected.

Review: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Title: The Mockingbirds
Author: Daisy Whitney
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 332
Rating: 4/5 Stars

The best thing Daisy Whitney does with The Mockingbirds is dive right in to the action. The story starts the morning after a night Alex Patrick can't remember and plows ahead relentlessly to the resolution. It stays tight and focused with every chapter tying back to that night. As I reader, I appreciated that because the subject of date-rape is heavy enough without being mired down by the other drama of high school. I think the narrow focus also highlighted the fact that for half a semester, Alex's world revolved around one thing - that night and all the doubts, fears and anxiety that went with it.

World building is always a big thing for me and Whitney's Themis Academy is a fascinating, isolated organism. While it's deplorable that the students attend a school that they know with certainty only cares about maintaining its reputation, I'm glad of it because it brought about the necessity for The Mockingbirds. Secret organizations are a dime a dozen, but it's rare to find one that is not only supposed to do good, but actually does. My favorite moments in the book were the ones where I found out more about the studen-run justice system.

Alex is a very relatable protagonist. A good girl, but nobody's saint, I felt for her as she struggled to come to terms with not only what happened, but her own memories of what happened. Her courage is believable, enough to impress me in a 17-year-old, but not stretch the boundaries of credibility. Carter, her accused date-rapist, was painted with a careful brush in that while he's - as one character so aptly puts it - a douche, he's not an evil sexual predator. He's a guy who has probably had everything handed to him and didn't think for a moment Alex wouldn't appreciate his advances.

If I had to critique anything it would be the depiction of Alex's friends and the Mockingbirds themselves. They seemed a little...too perfect. They all handled themselves in the situation with such ease - a finesse I don't think I'd be capable of now at thirty, let alone when I was in high school. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop - for one of her friends (Maia in particular) to flip and show her true evil colors, but maybe I've read/watched too many teen dramas. ;p

The ending of this novel was very satisfying, but not tied up in a little bow so neat it felt unrealistic. Ms. Whitney has a sequel coming out in 2012, The Rivals, that I will definitely check out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (2)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

Grab your current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page


This week I'm reading:

"Martin and I were flirting that night. Martin and I were talking and flirting and touching each other just barely, just the tiniest bit like you do when you first start to like someone."

pg. 139 The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Friday, August 19, 2011

Review: The Caretakers by Shauna Nosler

Title: The Caretakers
Author: Shauna Nosler
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: 274
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Until two seconds ago, I planned on giving this book three stars. I definitely liked The Caretakers, but it's what I think of as a domestic, family drama - definitely not my usual fair. But the whole point of taking recommendations from other bloggers, friends, etc is trying new things.

What changed my mind and bumped the book up to four stars is the fact that Shauna Nosler nearly made me cry. That, my friends, is a huge accomplishment and deserves kudos. Well done, Ms. Nosler.

The Caretakers uses the hotbutton topic of abortion and the landmark Roe vs. Wade case that made the practice legal in the US as its framework, but it's not about abortion. Over the course of fifteen years it tells a story about loss, grief and acceptance and finding a way to not only survive ones choices, but truly live with them and find happiness.

The back cover assures the reader that the book is not about right and wrong, and although I did get a pro-life vibe, it was mostly restricted to specific characters and I didn't feel preached at.

The characters - Caroline, Mitch, Jasper and Mabel - are vibrant and distinct. Nosler allows us a glimpse inside each of their heads and succeeds in giving them a distinct voice. While Jasper's journey was extensively fleshed out, I would have liked more from Mabel. I'm glad that she was able to find peace with her decisions, I would have liked to know more, specifically how she feels about the choice she made. I did get the impression that she regretted her choice to get an abortion, but I never really learned why. I also never really learned why she chose to have one in the first place. I think Nosler's story would be richer if she delved into those details of Mabel's experience.

Quite a few truths are left unsaid by the time I arrived at the last page of The Caretakers and for the most part I'm kind of glad they stayed that way. There are some things, especially about long buried secrets, that are better left unsaid. One truth, however, I feel needed to be told. Jasper needed to know that Nathan Comber was not the father of Mabel's child. Jasper didn't need to know who was, but given that Nathan was his father's best friend, I think his reputation deserved to be cleared, even if only one person was maligning it.

The Caretakers is worth a read. It moves quickly and the world Nosler creates - specifically The Country House - is a place I enjoyed spending time.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Irish Banana Review Giveaway - The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

My very good friend at The Irish Banana Review is doing an awesome YA book giveaway of Sara Shepard's (author of Pretty Little Liars) The Lying Game. Click here to enter!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

Grab your current read

Open to a random page

Share two (2) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page


This week I'm reading:

"Mable sat at a table inside one of the cafes next to her school and watched as drop after drop of water smacked the window and collected into a circular puddle on the sidewalk. She sipped her steamed almond milk and fiddled with the flakes of pastry that her breakfast had left ilde on her saucer."

Pg. 138 - The Caretakers by Shauna Nosler

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

Title: Shutter Island
Author: Dennis Lehane
Publisher: HarperTorch
Pages: 369
Rating: 4/5 Stars

I'm not sure at what point I started entertaining the idea that this whole investigation was a figment of some patient's imagination. It was a passing thought that I only marginally considered possible. Clearly, I should learn to trust my instincts.

Shutter Island is one of those books that leaves you feeling rather bleek, but there's no way it could have ended any other way and honored the spirit of the story. I'm interested to read more of Lehane's novels, although knowing how Shutter Island ends I'm going to have to work myself up to it and be prepared.

Also not surprised three of his novels have been made into movies thus far. His writing style lends itself beautifully to screenplay/script form. He creates a vivid world, but at the same time keeps the action moving at a quick clip - the very definition of a "gripping page-turner".

Review: Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Title: Before I Go To Sleep
Author: S.J. Watson
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 368 (ARC Copy)
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Any book compelling enough to get me to read it in one day deserves at least four stars. I might have given it five if it hadn't felt a little like watching the novelization of an above average Lifetime movie.

Told from the first person it's impossible not to share Christine's confusion and panic as she wakes up each morning with no knowledge of who she is or the identity of the strange man lying next to her in bed. Her story is told to both her and the reader through a journal she's been keeping at the suggestion of a psychiatrist she's been seeing without her husband's knowledge. That right there, Ben's ignorance of Christine's quest for the truth, is the first of many clues that nothing in Christine's world is as it seems.

S.J. Watson's choice to tell this strictly from Christine's perspective is most definitely the right one. Sometimes first person is too restricting and leaves me wanting more, but in this case it was much more fun to piece together the clues slowly through her eyes.

While the plot did feel rather maudlin and melodramatic at times, the twists and turns made for a thrilling ride. Several outcomes came to mind very early on, but I was never certain which would end up being the real truth. The ending was satisfying without being too neat and tidy. You're given the impression that Christine's memory may not disappear when she goes to sleep this time, that the next morning she may remember her newly rediscovered friends and family and just that possibility is enough.

Edit 6/6/11: I've spent more time pondering this novel and I have a couple more observations. Sometimes, I caught notions and phrases that seemed repetitive to me. In any other book, I'd call that a flaw. In this book I found meaning to the repetitiveness beyond author laziness. A woman starting every day from scratch has little choice but to repeat the same things over and over.

Christine lost her memory when she was in her late twenties. Watson does a really good job in keeping her in that late 20s mentality. I didn't feel like I was reading about a woman in her late 40s. It was interesting to be reminded, along with Christine, what her real age was.

Review: At The Heart of the White Rose by Inge Jens

Title: At The Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl
Author: Inge Jens
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 331
Rating: 5/5 Stars

If you're looking for a book that delves into the resistance activities of the White Rose in Germany during WWII, this is not the book for you. If you're looking to know more about Hans and Sophie Scholl, the siblings who died together for their beliefs, this book is perfect.

The collection of letters and diaries are in the Scholl sibling's own words and depict two like-minded individuals who believed above all in the beauty of Nature and strove to forge a relationship with God.

Despite the fact that everyday, Hans and Sophie were faced with atrocities that flew in the face of Nature and the God they so desperately longed to know, they maintained their faith. They believed that the German people, and humanity as a whole, deserved better than Hitler and the Nazi regime.

What I loved most about this book was the unabashed honesty with which Hans and Sophie expressed themselves. Whether in a diary entry for no eyes but their own or in a letter to their parents, the Scholls expressed their frustrations, joys, fears and longings with incredible candor that I found humbling. As I reached the entries just before Hans and Sophie's arrest, I was teary-eyed because I knew with each dated entry that their demise was imminent.

The book is set up very well, switching between Hans and Sophie in chronological fashion. Jens includes copious notes to give the reader additional information that fleshes out the world Hans and Sophie lived in, as well as the people in their lives. On its own, this book isn't enough to satisfy my curiosity about the White Rose, but it's a wonderful companion to other books on the topic. Hans and Sophie Scholl were amazing and inspirational and I've learned a great deal about myself having read their thoughts and feelings.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: Wake by Lisa McMann

Title: Wake
Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 210
Rating: 4/5 Stars

A very unusual and fun read. Also, a very quick read. I think it took me two days to finish it. Like Vampire Academy I deeply appreciate how the teens are written as teens, complete with all their vices, bad language and irrational behavior.

McMann does an excellent job of writing the females of the piece, but I'm not sure I'm totally sold on her depiction of Cabel. He's a little more quick to emote than I expected. Granted, he's letting his guard down with Janie, but still. Just a touch much, methinks.

The law enforcement twist was unexpected and on the one hand I love it. On the other I'm still a little bemused by the convenience of it in making the hero a total hero. Judging from the end and the teaser of Fade, Wake seems to be a build up to the law enforcement angle all along, so I'm going to go with it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review: Hex by Ramona Wray

Title: Hex: A Witch and Angel Tale
Author: Ramona Wray
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: 254
Rating: 3/5 Stars

I give this book 4 Stars for story and 2.5 Stars for technical merit. Once the plot well and truly thickened I liked Lucien/Lily/Ryder's story very much. In fact, I stayed up until 3am to finish reading the book. Wray created some colorful characters and a very interesting setting for her story.

Technically speaking, there's room for improvement. Wray is a good author, but I felt that the beginning of the book moved a little too quickly. Lily's inability to touch people certainly went a long way in explaining why she fell for and trusted Ryder so quickly, but I still wanted it to take longer. I'm a sucker for watching two people fall for each other, so perhaps this a bit of personal preference.

Wray overuses simile and metaphor. They are useful parts of speech but when I actually notice their frequency...that's a problem. Lily also has an extensive wealth of information that comes in very handy at various times in the novel, but I don't believe for a second the random teenager would know. It was a bit jarring when she was able to name the man who originally said "absolute power corrupts absolutely" or when she went off on a rant that the mid-20th century song that spawned the idea that you hurt the ones you love the most. If there had been some justification made as to why she knew these things, I would have gone with it, but there wasn't.

I think Wray has it in her to write some really amazing fiction, so I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA novels. I'll keep an eye on Wray and give her other work a try.

Review: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Title: American Psycho
Author: Bret Easton Ellis
Publisher: Vintage
Pages: 416
Rating: 3/5 Stars

Another book I don't know what to rate. Some sections of the book are so depraved they tap-danced on even my threshold of decency. Anybody who knows me understands how big a deal that is. Most of it, however, was absurdly hilarious and psychologically disturbing just as I expected.

I approached American Psycho thinking "god, I really hope I get this book." And then as I read it "I think I get it this book." Now that I've finished, I do think I "got it." Honestly, I think I try too hard sometimes to get books that others have heeped meanings upon, but that's a conversation for another day.

So, American Psyhco. Not for the faint of heart or easily offended. Our 'hero' as it were, is quite literally a psychotic asshole. Patrick Bateman is racist, sexist, agist, greedy, gluttonous, shallow, arrogant,and sadistic. He teases bums on the street, orders them to 'get a job' and then drops hundreds of dollars a night on dinners, drinks and drugs. He consistently cheats on his longtime girlfriend with other women, although Evelyn's so incredibly vapid and self-centered it takes a collossal slip up on Patrick's part for her to even consider the idea that he's been unfaithful. He spends more time at the gym than in the office and as he so exactly put it to a lunch date that he later tortured and murdered he ""

That compulsive need to fit in is the whole point and the amazing thing to me is that even though Patrick is a reprehensible human being, Ellis manages to infuse him with this yearning for the ever illusive something meaningful that you almost feel sorry for him in his inabilty to connect, to feel. As a reader I didn't forgive him for what he did, but I had no trouble understanding what drove him. Patrick's tragedy is that to him, there's only one way of life - the Wall Street way, the way of excess - and not only is he unable to recognize this, he is incapable of considering there's anything else. So he exists in a state of depression and homicidal rage which, fueled by drugs and alcohol, has only one logical conclusion. The hilariously and sad absurdity of it all is that Patrick is barely trying to hide his true nature. He's just surrounded by so many equally shallow and self-centered people that no one notices.

The excess of the 80s is on full display here and our narrator's earnest, detailed descriptions of his morning hygiene routine, his gym workout, meals he orders at restaurants, the decorating in every house he enters and especially what he and his companions in a given chapter are wearing is endlessly amusing. Everything is designer and everything is expensive. In fact, if it doesn't cost enough, Patrick and his fellow Wall Streeters aren't interested. What's new and hip is discussed excessively and the ability to get a reservation at Dorsia's - the #1 hot spot - is an ongoing cause of distress. My favorite chapters were actually the ones that felt like they were ripped right out of Rolling Stone as Patrick waxed poetic about the superb talents of Genesis, Whitney Houston and Huey Lewis and the News. Drum machines, sax solos, soaring, overwrought ballads - things that are so uniquely and detrimentally identified with 80s music - are highly praised in a way that twenty years later endlessly amused me.

If the word 'scathing' wasn't used to describe Ellis's work, it should be. It's the best adjective I can come up with to summerize what I got out of American Psycho. It is a scathing look at the heart of the 80s yuppie world, Wall Street, and how soulless the mindless lust for wealth and material possessions often is, what it turns people into when they don't know why.

Upon reading some of the other reviews I realized I glossed over the violence, although this was not done on purpose. I'm not going to go into detail on it because there are plenty of other reviews that do - often to exhausting extremes. Bottom line: the descriptions of violence against human beings in this book are incredibly graphic and sadisticly imaginative. For some they completely overshadow anything else the book is trying to say. In my opinion, that is a reflection upon the reader, not Mr. Ellis. Far too many readers want to pin their personal reactions upon him, blame him for writing something that is too this or too that. So, take that as a warning and read at your own risk.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Review: Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Title: Pretty Little Liars (Pretty Little Liars #1)
Author: Sara Shepard
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages 304
Rating: 3/5 Stars

Given that I watched the entire first season of the tv series based on PLL, I knew the twists and turns before the girls knew they were coming. The show follows the plot points of the first book very faithfully. That said, I very much enjoyed the book and will be reading Flawless.

PLL is a quick read, perfect mind candy and although the girls get up to some underage drinking/drugs, near/implied sex (with some, ahem, older boys), shoplifting and, as the title implies, a lot of lying/secret keeping, it felt youngish - written for the junior high crowd about the high schoolers they'll most likely idolize. Case in point, in the first chapter, when the girls had just finished their 7th grade year, I was surprised at how mature they seemed. Then three years pass, the girls are now juniors, and now I felt they weren't quite mature enough.

While the way Shepard namedrops designers can be a bit jarring at times it actually does wonders in creating the world inwhich Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily exist. Rosewood is as upper crust as you get without being on the Upper West Side. While their struggles with looks, identity, belonging, parental and peer pressure is universal, the world in which they exist is far removed from your average young adult reader. I think that adds to the appeal and also allows the author to push the envelope with what the girls get away with.

The parents are charicatures, adding to the generation gap and the isolation that leads the girls to keep their secrets and lies. Surprisingly - because one doesn't usually say this about the book to tv conversion - the parents are more fleshed out and have more depth on the small screen.

To sum up, this book felt like a prelude to the rest of the series. A 275 page set up. Again, that could have been because I have watched the series, but it's not really an insult so much as an observation. Set up needs to begin somewhere and as this was obviously written as the first in a series as opposed to a stand alone novel, there's nothing wrong with the way it breaks down.

Review: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Title: I Am Number Four
Author: Pittacus Lore
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 480
Rating: 3/5 Stars

First person, present tense. A very challenging writing style that can pay off if done well and Pittacus Lore manages to hit 'well' most of the time. The story of I Am Number Four is good. Not as compelling as The Hunger Games - another YA series set to reach the big screen - but I cared about the characters and what happened to them. I think that, unlike The Hunger Games, even as I get further from I Am Number Four, I will still like the characters. I want to know more about the Lorien Legacies and their destiny. Lore drops clues and doles out information very judiciously and as a result I want to read the next book in the series.

The prose is interesting and reminded me of Hemmingway. Not that it's the same, but there is something very distinct about Lore's use of words and attention to detail. Sometimes too much detail as more than once I caught myself rolling my eyes and mumbling that I don't freaking care if he had to open his bedroom door to enter the room - all I need to know is that he's in there. But that attention to detail results in a distinct voice that is Lore's alone and I feel that's an accomplishment worth noting whether I loved it all the time or not.

At times I enjoyed the dialogue. At times I felt I was being preached at or the fifteen and sixteen year olds were emmulating Dawson's Creek and using verbage that no teenager would use. Just little things. A certain sophistication and proper grammar that I don't think people really grasp until they are older. I didn't feel any character had a truly distinct personality, except maybe Henri. And that might only have been because I could so clearly picture Timothy Olyphant playing the role.

Originally I gave this book four stars. I've now amended that to three. Pittacus Lore has me for the next book, because I'm interested in the mytery of the Lorien Legacies and the first two chapters of The Power of Six included with my copy of the book have me ready for more. If I could, I'd give this three and a half stars.

Review: Ruined by Paula Morris

Title: Ruined
Author: Paula Morris
Publisher: Point
Pages: 309
Rating: 3/5 Stars

I had this book figured out fairly early on, but that didn't make the journey less enjoyable. The plot was a bit slow to start, but sped up quite quickly in the last third. I do wish the expositiony bits had been spread out more, rather than having three or four solid chapters where the characters did nothing but talk at me.

Speaking of, I liked the characters a lot. I felt that although the characters are 16-17 years old, the novel reads a bit young, more for the junior high set than actual 16-17 year olds. Rebecca was a sympathetic fish-out-of-water protagonist and managed to avoid overt self-pity. Lisette was really interesting because despite what happened to her, she wasn't a vengeful spirit. She wasn't purposely causing death and distruction, she was just a cog in the greater supernatural machine. Even the Mean Girls weren't really mean so much as scared and desperate. The Bowman's, Sutton's and Grey's were the villians of the piece, but I think the story would have been richer had they been written in more shades of grey.

Anton was done a bit of a disservice because while Rebecca heard and witnessed the traditions and deep familial obligations associated with the Garden District families she never really understood them and I don't think that's fair. Yes, Anton was Rebecca's friend, yes, he should have stood up for what was right, but he had also been friends with these other classmates for much longer than he'd known her. There's right, there's wrong and then there's the sticky middle ground where you know what's right but in order to do it one must surmount ridiculous obstacles and sometimes throw out everything they've ever known. That is scary stuff for a seventeen year old kid and Anton's struggle shouldn't be disregarded.

Ruined is technically a ghost story, but it's not a spine-tingling page turner. Racism, classism and the sins of the past are the truly chilling aspects of this novel.

I'd also like to note that the vivid descriptions of a post-Katrina New Orleans are particularly interesting and add great depth to the atmosphere of the book.

Review: Enigma by Robert Harris

Title: Enigma
Author: Robert Harris
Publisher: Arrow
Pages: 464
Rating: 3/5 Stars

I found Enigma a compelling page turner. I was able to spend large chunks of time reading which is a plus. Harris weaves a very intriguing mystery into the greater struggle of breaking the Enigma machine. Like Jericho and Hester I really wanted to know what happened to Claire - even if I didn't like her much. I'll never understand the appeal and loyalty these bitchy, self-centered characters demand, but that's another story. I really did want to know not only where she disappeared to, but why and because of whom. Like Jericho, as soon as that mystery was solved I felt a sense of release and was able to move on. I didn't need to know more.

I gave the novel three stars because Harris' writing style felt a little...dry. That's not quite the right word, but will suffice. Also - and this is my fault, not his - my brain is not wired to comprehend code breaking and math on the level required of these cryptanalysts. The sections that dealt heavily with exactly how the Enigma machine worked and how codes were broken did little for me and I think my eyes glazed over a bit until I arrived at the punchline.

I think this book's biggest strength is the picture it paints of every day life in England during the war. This isn't about the devastation of the Blitz or the trauma of serviving an attack. This is the toil of surviving, every day, under the strain of the black outs, the food rationing, the lack of basically everything. What I took away most from this book is what I always take away from anything having to deal with WWII - the people who lived it and fought in it are fascinating and inspirational.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Review: Marked by P.C. & Kristin Cast

Title: Marked (House of Night #1)
Author: P.C. & Kristin Cast
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 306
Rating: 3/5 Stars

My roommate reads these House of Night novels the way I read Twilight - i.e. constantly wondering why I'm wasting my time with such poorly written, yet so-addictive-it's-like-crack YA fiction. She likens this book to bad fanfic and while I agree to a point, I have read too much actually horrific fanfiction to disparrage this book like that.

Anyhoo, now that I'm done slamming it, I will say I enjoyed reading Marked. I liked all the characters and since I already started with the Twilight comparisons, I will add that I found Zoey so much more entertaining than Bella. Mostly because Zoey doesn't suffer from soul crushing self esteem issues. I felt for Zoey in the way family and friends shunned her after the mark appeared (btw, how feaking cool that it's like a tattoo? The descriptions sound incredibly beautiful), but she was resilient enough that the feeling didn't veer over into pity.

Zoey's new friends are a lot of fun, although the Twins are a touch much. As with Twilight, I really enjoy the twists on the vampire/vampyre mythology. The Change taking four years, the arts world being dominated by vamps, the fact that it's like an alternate reality where vamps have been part of the known world forever. Very cool.

Marked was a fun read and I'm looking forward to reading more of the series.

All We Need Is Love

"What are doubts, if not doubts about ourselves? Uncertainty seldom resides in others or in our relationship with them, but usually in our own hearts, and we strive to generalize it. Nothing, I know, is more understandable than our environment, which precisely obeys the laws that govern it, provided we explore the nature of things. Man in the midst of his world resembles a fire that flickers relentlessly, inflames us with apparent unpredictability, burns, and dies. Should we blind ourselves to these dangers? Isn't it preferable to die of ever-gnawing pain than to roam the world freely and easiy, but falsely? Is their no consolation?

Love is the only consolation, because love requires no proof. It exists like God himself, whose existence could doubtless be proved but was sensed by mankind long before any evidence could be produced.

Yes, there's such a thing as love for its own sake. It's unconstrained and exempt from human jurisdiction." ~Hans Scholl

Thus far, this letter to Rose Nagele, is the most concise and complete explanation of the conviction and character that led Hans Scholl to die for his beliefs. It's both inspiring and daunting and makes me wonder if I could possibly stand in his shoes and act the same.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Review: The Awakening by L.J. Smith (Rant included)

Title: The Awakening (The Vampire Diaries #1)
Author: L.J. Smith
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 320
Rating: 3/5 Stars

I liked this book, but it's a warm-up for the real story that is coming in the rest of the series.

Stefan was too weak for my taste. In this mythology vampires can drink from their victims without draining them. Stefan refuses to drink human blood and abhors himself for even craving it. I don't understand that. Yes, he's kind of a parasite, but he doesn't have to kill anybody to get what he needs (unlike in the Twilight series where the vamps drain their victims. That I understand) so why does he hate himself so much? Silly.

I wasn't sure how I would like Elena given how she seemed to have no redeeming qualities in the beginning, but she actually does have depth and while she's got a very high opinion of herself, she doesn't go around deliberately hurting people. She's not a Mean Girl, she's just knows who she is.

Damon wasn't in it enough to really form an opinion, but I'm inclined to like the bad boys.

Katherine was ridiculous. Apparently, it wasn't just the aging process that was stunted when she became a vamp, her emotional maturity ceased to develop as well. I do not think she's worth all this strife between the brothers at all.

Bonnie and Meredith are good friends to Elena and bravo to them for calling her on her secrecy regarding Stefan.

I don't have much to say about the story. Like I said, it's a warm-up for the real drama. I will be reading the next book.

7/11 Update: I read this...February 2010 and at the time I did intend on reading the whole series. In light of the fact that L.J. Smith was fired by HarperCollins last winter/spring because her vision wasn't what they wanted, I will not be reading any of the other books.

Let's get this out of the way first, L.J. Smith will not be winning any awards for her prose. She's not that talented a writer. As my friend at The Irish Banana Review put it: the demands of her audience matured, her writing style did not. So, my boycotting of the books has nothing to do with L.J. Smith's talent.

What pisses me off is why she was fired. Yes, she was hired to write a series for HarperCollins and technically they own it, but I think it's bullshit that they can interfere in her artistic vision. She made The Vampire Diaries a marketable entity and put it in a position of being popular enough to be brought to the silver screen, thus bringing in even more money making opportunities for HarperCollins. Now, after all that, they want to dictate to her what she can do with the characters she created? Good for her for saying no. Bad on them for firing her over it.

I have no interest in reading something I know was mandated by a publishing company. Whether it happens elsewhere is irrelevant. This is a case of ignorance being bliss. When I read a book I want to live under the assumption that the plot has been created by an author, not dictated by some suits in an office who don't give a crap about words, plot or character and only about numbers on a page.

Of course, there's also the little fact that the publishers demanded the triangle between Damon/Elena/Stefan go the opposite direction of what I want. I won't deny that, but even if that weren't the case I'd have a hard time enjoying the plot knowing that it wasn't the original author's intention. It would seem a hollow victory.

So...farewell Vampire Diaries books. I'll stick to the tv show.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review: Nevermore by Keith R.A. Candido

Title: Nevermore (Supernatural #1)
Author: Keith R.A. Candido
Publisher: Harper Entertainment
Pages: 352
Rating: 3/5 Stars

I've had this book - along with two other SPN tie-in novels - sitting on my shelf for years and finally decided to give one a try. I got them more out of a freakish obsession with all things connected to the show than an attraction to the plot, so it's really no surprise I never ventured beyond the pretty, pretty covers. ;p That being said, in the spirit of lightening the burden my bookshelf carries I decided now was the time to read them or just put them up on pbs and be done with it.

I don't think I need to tell you which one I went with.

Nevermore is a mediocre book. No two ways about it. DeCandido's prose is not going to win any literary awards. As such it's no wonder that he writes a lot of tie-in novels for tv shows with a built in audience that will probably give him a try because he's writing about their favorite characters/show. I'm morbidly curious to see if he'd have any luck creating his own completely original material.

DeCandido's main job in Nevermore is having a solid grasp of Sam and Dean Winchester and for the purposes of this novel mostly succeeds. The main problem with this and other tie-in novels - as the other Nerd pointed out to me once upon a time- is that they have to fall within the timeline of the show. That means, there can be little or no real character development. As a result we're given charicatures of Sam and Dean rather than fully fleshed out characters. Dean is the wise-cracking, perpetually on the prowl, classic rock and beer loving badass, while Sam is sincere, focused on the job, the font of all knowledge and haunted/conflicted about his life as a hunter. The one moment in Nevermore where Sam tried to get all deep fell incredibly flat because, like Dean, I didn't have the slightest freaking clue what point he was trying to make. I don't know if DeCandido did either. It was simply an attempt to inject Nevermore with a poignant, emotional 'chick-flick' moment that Dean claims to hate but are a staple of SPN.

Sam and Dean's interactions as brothers are very basic and only scratch the surface. Again, it's not really a surprise because character development has to remain static to still be a tie-in novel and not veer into fan fiction territory - an incredibly fine line. They tease each other mercilessly, work very well together as a team and tend to bicker a lot. At the beginning of the book I was concerned we were going to get a Sam-centric POV that only gave us the most extreme aspects of Dean's character, but I was happily proven wrong. Dean gets his due as well and both brothers are written as the heroes they are.

The case the boys are working is servicable, although I was disappointed that the ritual being used was left as a hoax. It would have been cool to see the boys surprised when the Big Bad pulled off the resurrection of Edgar Allen Poe. I wasn't surprised when the identity of the said Big Bad was revealed as I knew he was the guilty party from the first time he was mentioned, but that didn't hurt my enjoyment of the novel any more than it would on the show. I don't need to be surprised all the time. Often the real fun is in watching Sam and Dean (or any characters) get from point A to point B. The side plot with Manfred Afiri, Scottso and the dead Roxy Carmichael was the true supernatural event and DeCandido does a good job of keeping you guessing as to who Roxy was really begging to love her. I thought it was novel to have the boys actually crash in a house for once.

The way DeCandido incorporated the show's famed classic rock soundtrack was cool, if not incredibly original. Dean's aversion to NYC traffic was amusing and a believable detail. I appreciated Dean and Sam learning more about their reputations as hunters and always love when someone tells them they're better hunters than John - much as I love Big Daddy Winchester.

Nevermore isn't a waste of time for the casual fan who wants an extra helping of the Winchester Bros doing what they do best - saving people and hunting things. For the more, ahem, obsessive fan this book and it's lack of depth will fall flat. I won't be reading any more of the tie-ins but I won't discourage anybody from checking them out.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Review: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Title: Wishful Drinking
Author: Carrie Fisher
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 176
Rating: 4/5 Stars

I love Carrie Fisher. At first I loved her because of Princess Leia and Star Wars but the more I heard about her the more I loved her for her refreshingly candid attitude about not only her life, but life in general. I can't believe it took me this long to read her memoir. Rest assured, should she write another - which I fervently hope she does - I will not take so long.

Wishful Drinking made me wish I was friends with Ms. Fisher and not just in the "Oh, I love Star Wars and I want to be besties with the most badass Princess in the galaxy" way. I want to be friends with the amazing woman who has gone through so much as a human being and still has such a wonderful, amazing outlook on this absurd thing we call life.

Ms. Fisher obviously subscribes to the idea that she'd rather laugh than cry and it's with this outlook that she recounts her existence thus far. Unlike some trainwreck offspring of celebrity parents, she places no blame on them for the choices she's made. On the contrary, she goes out of her way to acknowledge that while her upbringing was definitely not 'normal' in the regular sense of the word, it also wasn't a tragic misery. Ms. Fisher embraces the mistakes she's made and gleefully takes responsibility. Those she's loved, lost, wronged and been wronged by all receive the same treatment. She accepts them, as they are, not blind to their faults, but able to see that no person is all one thing.

I love her way words, her wit, her wry and hilarious observations, wordplay and connections. Her book is written in a messy and at times hilariously bewildering stream of consciousness that manages to never feel accidental. My only complaint is that I wanted more. The book is short and I read it in a matter of a few hours. I could have just as completely enjoyed a book twice or three times long.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

Title: Fallen
Author: Lauren Kate
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 452
Rating: 3/5 Stars

This book was a solid 4 (out of 5) stars until the last 4th. Then it slipped into 3 star territory. Kate's characters are engaging and likable, the world of Swords & Cross intriguing and the mystery kept me turning pages.

The ending, unfortunately, left me disappointed, and not simply because as the first book in a series there were some loose ends. I like loose ends. It gives me a reason to anxiously await the next book. What was lacking for me was a solid sense of satisfaction at the threads that were tied up. There just weren't enough of them. Luce solved the who and what of Daniel, found out why Molly, Cam, Roland, Arrianne and Gabbe were all so chummy/hostile toward each other and that was basically it. I would have liked to know why Daniel fell at the very least, although I'm not blind to the implied idea that he was booted from Heaven for falling in love with a mortal.

I realize that events happened quickly and given the story is told from Luce's POV without it actually being a 1st person narrative, it makes sense that she didn't have time to adequately process everything. But I wanted to process more. I wanted more time for certain reveals to sink in, allowing more reveals to materialize.

Kate has me for the 2nd novel. She successfully created a world and characters that make me want to learn more. But I really hope her pace improves with the next novel. If my questions are answered later, I'll probably forgive the way this book ended. If they're not then I probably won't stick around for the 3rd book.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Beautiful words...

"It's nice when two people keep each other company without promising to meet up at such and such a place, or to stay together forever. They simply travel together awhile, and if their routes happen to diverge, they both go their way in peace." ~Sophie Scholl, 1939

"I feel no desire for 'heroism' in war. What I seek is purification. I want all the shadows to melt away from me. I'm searching for myself, just myself, because this much I do know: I'll only find the truth inside me." ~Hans Scholl, 1939

Sophie's quote eloquently describes how I often feel and perhaps part of the reason the world wide web appeals to people. It's a type of freedom, knowing that at any moment you can reach out with an email or a post and contact someone who shares your passions, but if life or personal desire pulls you elsewhere, there is no guilt. The messageboard is always there...

As for Hans...I'm struck by how ardently he strives for enlightenment.


2011 Bad Writing Contest Winner

University of Wisconsin professor Sue Fondrie of Oshkosh, WI won the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

"Cheryl's mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories."

Read more here...

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest


At the Heart of the White Rose

At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl

Hans and Sophie Scholl were young Germans, executed by the Nazi's during WWII for their resistance efforts as part of the White Rose. I don't remember how I found out about these two, but I became fascinated and wanted to learn more. I'm finally getting around to it.

Entirely comprised of the personal correspondence of Hans and Sophie, thus far this book is a bit like The Diary of Anne Frank. I like to think that I have a decent grasp of the English language, but these two, Hans in particular, put me to shame. The eloquence in their writing, the personal thoughts and feelings they reveal to friends and family, surpass the emotion I'm willing to share with my diary, let alone another human being. It's amazing, inspiring and a little sad.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Look Upward...

...and share the wonders I've seen.

The title of my blog is a play on Farscape, the most amazing, epic television show in the history of the world. The show has become the bar by which I judge all my entertainment, books included. If a book can come within a stone's throw of the glory that is Farscape, chances are it will get a stellar review from me.

So, thanks for checking this little blog out. Hopefully, you'll enjoy the literary journey though the Uncharted Territories as much as me.