Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Certain Chemistry

Fiction by Mil Millington.

A Certain Chemistry: A Novel

This was a funny book.

I mean it. Like, I actually read passages out loud to family members in the room after snorting to myself about them.

I had to edit out the cuss words though. It's set in Scotland, and you know how those British writers are with their potty mouths.

So not for everyone. But I liked this book a lot.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Outlander

Fiction by Diana Gabaldon.

Outlander (Outlander Series #1)

Pretty good, but I don't know if I want to commit to the series. (There are seven books so far.)

I may have had too much of a build-up on this one (TWO different people recommended it highly) but I didn't enjoy this book as much as I'd have liked.

It had a slow start and a lot of, um, erotica. Also not enough actual fantasy, for a story in the fantasy genre.

Maybe one thumb up and one thumb down?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Defending Jacob

Fiction by William Landay.

Defending Jacob

Great legal thriller. Really really good.

The premise: What happens if the prosecutor's son is accused of murder?

 I knew there would be a twist at the end, and I was still surprised! Very cool.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Raising a Soul Surfer

Nonfiction by Cheri Hamilton.

Raising a Soul Surfer: One Family's Epic Tale

A good memoir.

I am interested in the story of Bethany Hamilton since I live in the state of Hawaii, although not on Kauai. Also I really enjoyed the movie Soul Surfer.

Despite the title, this is not a parenting book, so don't expect that. It's mostly a story and then some spiritual reflections.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Magician's Assistant

Fiction by Ann Patchett.

The Magician's Assistant

Really good book. Good characters with believable relationships.

This is about a woman who discovers a secret about her husband after his death, but not in a The Pilot's Wife  kind of way at all. (Read that one --by Anita Shreve-- if you can.)

First off, the magician husband in question is gay, but the wife is not exactly a beard either. It's more complicated than that.

Definitely worth reading.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Prisoner of Heaven

Fiction by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

The Prisoner of Heaven

This book was okay, but I think it suffered in translation.

Also the author stole too much of the plot from classics like Les Miserables and The Count of Monte Cristo, some of which he acklowleged openly that he borrowed.

But there's a point where you're borrowing too much and it slides into stealing. Like when it's more than two key plot elements.

Anyways, maybe it was better in Spanish.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

While I'm Falling

Fiction by Laura Moriarty.

While I'm Falling

Really good book.

Laura Moriarty can write characters you really care about. There are parents getting a divorce and their two daughters, one grown and one in college. I can believe and identify with each one of the characters and see her/his point of view. Particularly the women, of course, but she doesn't descend into "men are pigs" mode.

The copy I read from the library had a better cover, though. See?>>>>>>>>

I know, I harp too much on book covers.

But really, isn't the old one better?

(Second image from

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Meaning of Wife

Subtitled "A Provocative Look at Women and Marriage in the Twenty-first Century."
Nonfiction by Anne Kingston.

Meaning of Wife: A Provocative Look at Women and Marriage in the Twenty-first Century

I really wasn't into this one.

Maybe I didn't give it a proper chance, since it was due at the library and unrenewable. But I didn't finish the book, because it didn't seem worth the twenty-five cents a day to read the rest.

I mean, we already know women have historically gotten a raw deal in marriage, and it's recently gotten better but not better enough; there is still much inequality in marriage, blah blah blah.

I guess I get tired of books that expand and expound on problems but offer no workable solutions to them.

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in AmericaExample: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich. (

That book had a cool premise. The author, an intellectual upper-class type, would crawl down into the pit with the rest of the world and try to live on minimum wage working at crap jobs. And she really stuck to this, which was interesting to read about. I mean waitressing is one thing. But Wal-Mart? MERRY MAIDS? ugh.

Still, all she "uncovered" is that the poor are continually getting screwed by society. Excuse me, Dr. Ehrenreich, but DUH. Can you give me something that can actually be done about that? Besides throwing more government money at the problem, because that is OBVIOUSLY not working so far.

So maybe I have some politcal views that make me too biased to fairly read this sort of thing.

But, in its defense, The Meaning of Wife has a REALLY cool cover.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Lazarus Project

Fiction by Aleksandar Hemon.

The Lazarus Project

I did not like this book. There. I said it.

I think I need to stop trying to read the National Book Award books.

The author kept switching past to present and there seemed to be no connection between the two. I kept waiting to find out at the end what really happened and then.....


Argh. Frustrating.

Although the copy I read at least had a very nice cover >>>>>

....unlike the weird orangey version above.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Nonfiction by Amy Chua.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Yeah, I know. Everyone else read this book two years ago.

I read the reviews and excerpts two years ago and was incensed. Read this excerpt and see why:

"A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents
raise such stereotypically successful kids.
They wonder what these parents do to produce
so many math whizzes and music prodigies,
what it's like inside the family, and whether they could do it too.
Well, I can tell them, because I've done it.
Here are some things my daughters,
Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:
  • attend a sleepover
  • have a playdate
  • be in a school play
  • complain about not being in a school play
  • watch TV or play computer games
  • choose their own extracurricular activities
  • get any grade less than an A
  • not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • not play the piano or violin.
The Chinese mother believes that
(1) schoolwork always comes first;
(2) an A-minus is a bad grade;
(3) your children must be two years ahead
of their classmates in math;
(4) you must never compliment your children in public;
(5) if your child ever disagrees with a teacher or coach,
you must always take the side of the teacher or coach;
(6) the only activities your children should be permitted
to do are those in which they can eventually win a medal;
 and (7) that medal must be gold."
There follows a lot more stuff about how lazy and unmotivated the rest of us are versus the Chinese. And how much better Amy Chua's daughters in particular are, versus everyone else's kids. So unsurprisingly, this book caused a lot of controversy.
However, upon reading the whole book, I have another opinion. This is one of the most honest memoirs I've read. I enjoyed it.
It's not a how-to for parenting. I'm still horrified by some of the mean things she said to the kids (rejecting the birthday card her four-year-old made for her as not good enough, calling her daughter's "garbage," et cetera) but it made for entertaining reading.

Also, it really made me think about the ideas of: What do we as parents want for our children, and what are we willing to do in order to accomplish our goals? What is the most important thing in child-rearing: a happy child or a successful child? (obviously both would be good!)

Every mom has to answer these questions for herself.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Game of Thrones

Fiction by George R.R. Martin.

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1)
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1)

Good book, but a little long. (805 pages!!)

And it's only book ONE! So I got to the end, and realized I'd basically just read an eight-hundred-plus-page set-up for a series!

This book is a big commitment.

Of course, you can just watch it on TV instead I guess....