Sunday, July 26, 2009

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

From the Publishers: This first novel in Alexander McCall Smith’s widely acclaimed No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to “help people with problems in their lives.” Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witch doctors.

My Review:
Well it was my day off on Friday and I had big plans of cleaning my house and doing laundry and my apartment building decided it was a great day to shut the water off for 7 hrs. Needless to say I didn't get anything accomplished except reading an entire book. I have to say that I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would have. I did like the main character but I thought that the book didn't give as much character development as I would have liked. There are a lot of mini stories going on throughout the entire novel. I did enjoy reading the descriptions of Africa and I suppose that the character development may come in future books in the series but I have to say that overall I was a little disappointed. There is so much hype about this series and I felt it fell a little flat. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Flying Changes by Sara Gruen

From the Publishers: Twenty years after her competitive riding career died, Annemarie Zimmer worries that her relationship with the man she loves is off course, and fears that daughter Eva's own dreams of Olympic glory will carry her far from home ... and into harm's way. When the teenage Eva is invited to audition for a world-class trainer, Annemarie realizes that she must give Eva a chance to soar. But when Eva falls in love with a spectacular blue roan Nokota who hasn't let anyone ride him since his arrival at the barn, Annemarie's doubts come crashing back. It is a time of change at Maple Brook, when fears must be saddled and broken. And one remarkable family must learn how to deal with.

My Review:
This is the second book of a two book series. I have already reviewed the first book
Riding Lessons and that being said I really enjoyed this book a lot better than the first one. The main character in the first book was quite irritating and it was difficult to sympathize with her. In this book, while she still does some frustrating things, she is a much more believable character. I stayed up all night finishing this one; I couldn't put it down. I also found that this book tugged a bit more at the heartstrings. Gruen really develloped each character from the first book and I found myself drawn into wanting to know more. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

From the Publishers: Lara Lington has always had an overactive imagination, but suddenly that imagination seems to be in overdrive. Normal professional twenty-something young women don't get visited by ghosts. Or do they? When the spirit of Lara's great-aunt Sadie-a feisty, demanding girl with firm ideas about fashion, love, and the right way to dance-mysteriously appears, she has one last request: Lara must find a missing necklace that had been in Sadie's possession for more than seventy-five years, and Sadie cannot rest without it. Lara, on the other hand, has a number of ongoing distractions. Her best friend and business partner has run off to Goa, her start-up company is floundering, and she's just been dumped by the "perfect" man.
Sadie, however, could care less. Lara and Sadie make a hilarious sparring duo, and at first it seems as though they have nothing in common. But as the mission to find Sadie's necklace leads to intrigue and a new romance for Lara, these very different "twenties" girls learn some surprising truths from each other along the way. Written with all the irrepressible charm and humor that have made Sophie Kinsella's books beloved by millions, "Twenties Girl "is also a deeply moving testament to the transcendent bonds of friendship and family.

My Review:
I know this is chick lit and therefore not a great literary masterpiece but I couldn't put this book down. I really enjoyed the characters in the book. This book was a little different from Kinsella's other books in the fact that it is a ghost story. It focuses on family heritage which I have always found interesting. I have always been the one in my family who wanted to know my relatives as more than just their title (grandmother, great aunt, aunt, etc) I have always wanted to know what it was like for them growing up and what kind of trouble they got into. This book reminds me of how important these kinds of conversations are with your relatives while you still have the chance. That being said, like most chick lit there is an air of predictability about the book. I have come to expect this and it is still fun to read none the less. I really enjoy Kinsella's writing style but have found that I enjoy her non-Shopaholic books best. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

From the publishers:
Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared off the secluded island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger family. There was no corpse, no witnesses, no evidence. But her uncle, Henrik, is convinced that she was murdered by someone from her own deeply dysfunctional family. Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired to investigate, but he quickly finds himself in over his head. He hires a competent assistant: the gifted and conscience-free computer specialist Lisbeth Salander, and the two unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.

My Review:
It took a little time for me to really get into this book but once I did I couldn't put it down. I really enjoyed reading a book that was set in a totally different country than I am used to. The book really did a good job of giving me an idea of who the main characters really were. The book was not purely driven by plot and I really enjoyed that. I almost felt like I was smack dab in the middle of the mystery. I also have to say that the book was anything but predictable. I have often found that I can guess who the "bad guy" is right away in mysteries but while reading this book I really found myself changing my mind every few minutes about who could have been the killer. I really liked the twist at the end of the novel too. I won't ruin it for anyone who hasn't read the book. I am really looking forward to
The Girl Who Played With Fire which is the 2nd book in the series. I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Postcards From Last Summer by Roz Bailey

From the Publishers: Darcy, Tara and Lindsay are the best of friends who reconnect every summer for a few weeks of catching up and living easy. The summertime is anything but boring for these three strong women who indulge in the best of what''s in season: romance, excitement and the time of their lives

My Review:
I have to say I couldn't bring myself to finish this book. Most of the plot was boring and there were long gaps in the timeframe that I didn't like. It also had way too many gratuitous sex scenes. I am not a prude by any means but I don't think that a book has to have a sex scene in it every chapter. It was just a little too much for me. I was disappointed because I thought that it would be just a nice easy summer read and I was looking forward to it. I give this book 1 star out of 5.

Booking Through Thursday

So I've been seriously slacking on my blog and decided to participate again this week. I'll be adding more reviews soon too. Our summer is ridiculously busy with 3 weddings and all wedding related things (showers, bachelorettes, stag and does). Ok, so here is this weeks meme. My answers are beside the italic print.

Which do you prefer? (Quick answers–we’ll do more detail at some later date) Reading something frivolous? Or something serious? Depends on my mood. Something in between really.
Paperbacks? Or hardcovers? Paperbacks Fiction? Or Nonfiction? Fiction Poetry? Or Prose? Prose
Biographies? Or Autobiographies? Autobiographies History? Or Historical Fiction? Hmm... I was a history minor but I guess I'd go with Historical Fiction
Series? Or Stand-alones? Stand Alones... I do read some series but after a while depending on the series the books can tend to get too repetitious
Classics? Or best-sellers? Best Sellers
Lurid, fruity prose? Or straight-forward, basic prose? Something in between, nothing too basic but nothing too fruity
Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness? Plots
Long books? Or Short? Depends on my mood
Illustrated? Or Non-illustrated? Non illustrated
Borrowed? Or Owned? Owned
New? Or Used? New
(Yes, I know, some of these we’ve touched on before, and some of these we might address in-depth in the future, but for today–just quick answers!)

So there they are :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen

From the Publishers: A stunning new voice in American fiction, Sara Gruen makes a masterful debut with a novel of family, tragedy, rebirth ... and the breathtaking love of something wild. As a world-class equestrienne and Olympic contender,Annemarie Zimmer lived for the thrill of flightatop a strong, graceful animal. Then, at eighteen, atragic accident destroyed her riding career and Harry,her beloved and distinctively marked horse. Now, twenty years later, Annemarie is coming hometo her dying father's New Hampshire horse farm. Jobless and abandoned, she is bringing her troubled teenaged daughter to this place of pain and memory, where ghosts of an unresolved youth still haunt the fields and stables -- and where hope lives in the eyes of the handsome, gentle veterinarian Annemarie loved as a girl ... and in the seductive allure of a trainer with a magic touch.

But everything will change yet again with one glimpse of a red and white striped gelding startlingly similar to the one Annemarie lost in another lifetime. And an obsession is born that could shatter her fragile world.

My Thoughts:
I got this book because I absolutely adored Water for Elephants. It's not that I was disappointed with this book because I wasn't but I didn't find that it had the same pizazz as Gruen's bestseller. I never grew up around horses but I had a friend in high school who had a horse at a barn and went with her a few times to watch her ride. I myself have never rode a horse but when I watch people it looks exhilarating. I found myself really involved in this book and wanting the characters to get along. I have to say I found the main character to be frustrating. I could just see her making all kinds of mistakes with her daughter (I myself am 27 with no children so what do I know) and with her parents and I just wanted to shake her sometimes. I almost felt like while I could sympathize with the main character's sadness for not being as close with her daughter and parents, I could sympathize more with her daughter and mother. I would not know how to communicate with a woman like that. In the end I really wanted to know what else was going to happen. So... to feed my book addiction I went out and bought the next book in the series. Stay tuned for that review. I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

A Wild Affair by Gemma Townley

From the Publishers:
The big day is almost here for Jessica Wild. She's finally engaged to the perfect man-sexy, wonderful Max-and is in the middle of planning the perfect wedding. Nothing, absolutely nothing, stands between her and happily-ever-after. Well, almost nothing. Probably nothing. You see, lately Max has been evasive, even secretive. And when Jessica answers his mobile and hears a sultry woman's voice on the other end, it's the last straw. Leaving nothing to chance, Jessica tracks down the mystery woman-and finds her smack in the middle of Max's embrace.
The next thing Jessica knows, she's waking up in the apartment of Max's business rival after a night out that was meant to help her forget her woes. And when a series of even more tumultuous events leads to a life-changing discovery, Jessica realizes that things are not what they seem-not by a long shot. How could she have ever doubted the only man she's ever wanted? And now that her job, her reputation, and her heart are in jeopardy, is love enough to give her the miracle she so desperately needs?

My Thoughts:
This is a typical chick lit book. I have read most of Townley's books. I started reading her novels because she is Sophie Kinsella's sister I really enjoy her novels. This is the second book in a series althought I'm not sure how many more books Townley is planning on writing. I enjoyed this book because it was an easy light read but at the same time the main character is a bit frustrating. She continues to dodge the truth and as a reader you just know that things are going to end in disaster. With that said, you also know that as typical chick lit, things will work themselves out in the end if only the protanganist comes clean and confesses to her wrongdoings. I give this book a 3 out of 5.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

From the Publishers:
The visionary creator of the Academy Award-winning Pan's Labyrinth and a Hammett Award-winning author bring their imaginations to this bold, epic novel about a horrifying battle between man and vampire that threatens all humanity. It is the first installment in a thrilling trilogy and an extraordinary international publishing event.
The Strain

They have always been here. Vampires. In secret and in darkness. Waiting.Now their time has come.
In one week, Manhattan will be gone. In one month, the country.
In two months-the world.
A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing . . .So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city-a city that includes his wife and son-before it is too late.

My Review:
I really enjoyed this book. It was like vampires meets zombies. The head vampire in the novel wants to take over the planet starting with New York City. I really like how the authors drew out the plot to make it suspenseful. The characters, even the minor ones, are written beautifully and I have a feeling that they may reappear later on in the next two books of the trilogy. I had seen Pan's Labrinth and The Orphanage which were both directed by del Toro and I was really looking forward to this book. I was not disappointed and I recommend it highly if you like vampire/zombie genre. I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5.

Booking ThroughThursday

Ok so here is the question for this week:

Do you read celebrity memoirs? Which ones have you read or do you want to read? Which nonexistent celebrity memoirs would you like to see?

I have to say I haven't read any celebrity memoirs but there are a few that I've been thinking of getting; one being Barbara Walters' new book. She has interviewed so many people and has had quite a fulfilling life. It would be interesting to see if she has any skeletons in the closet. I was also told that Tori Spelling's two books were pretty interesting. I think I may have to add a few of these to my TBR pile.
I have to say it really bugs me when someone in their 20s writes a tell all memoir. I feel that they should wait until they have a little more insight before they write their life story, especially considering they haven't lived even half their life yet. That's just a little pet peeve of mine.