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Sunshine, by Robin McKinley [Sep. 12th, 2006|11:50 pm]
Summer's here!

arekuru
Title: Sunshine (But don't read the summaries/reviews; major spoilers!)
Author: Robin McKinley
Grade: A
Genre: Goth/Post-Apocalyptic Future/Fantasy/Fairy Tale
FCC Rating: R for smatterings of sex (and I do mean smatterings) and horror themes, including gruesome killing.

Summary: In a world lots like ours except, as eventually becomes clear, rather different, kind of in the future, and inhabited by demons and were-creatures and, most importantly, vampires alongside the usual humans, a woman who works in a bakery discovers that sometimes doing one semi-stupid thing can lead to about 400 pages of ZOMG vampires and magic! But it's written by Robin McKinley, so it's actually much better than it sounds.

Opinions: I wasn't really planning to read this book. Nicole managed to put me off vampires a couple years ago with lengthy speeches about how boring they were (not that I was that into them previously), and since the full extent of my knowledge about Sunshine was "vampires," I figured I'd pass. Despite my [very, very large] fondness for The Outlaws of Sherwood, I was not equally fond of The Hero and the Crown, so McKinley's books haven't ever been auto-buys of mine or anything.

But for some reason, Sunshine has been popping up in random comments and places around the internets lately, so I finally pulled it off the library shelves. And made the mistake of reading the first few pages when I should have been going to bed.

Read the rest of this review.Collapse )

So in conclusion, if you're looking for something slightly creepy, dramatic, funny, amazingly well-written, and very much in the style of a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, you should totally read Sunshine.

PS: If you drink every time cinnamon rolls are mentioned you can get pretty smashed in about 10 pages.
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Claudius the God by Robert Graves [Aug. 6th, 2005|05:54 pm]
Summer's here!
brandirosek
Title: Claudius the God
Author: Robert Graves
Grade: C
Genre: Historical fiction

Summary: Picking up where I, Claudius left off, this book details Claudius's reign in his own words, including the conquering of Britain, the betrayal of his wife Messalina, and Claudius's efforts to reconcile his republican viewpoint with his status as emperor.

Opinions: This book is probably as well written as the first one, but got a lower grade because it bored me more. The infighting among the Imperial family helped make the first book interesting, but now most of them are dead. Conspiracies still abound (and most of the leaders' names start with V, continuing the tradition of confusing me) but they're not as interesting this time around. Toss in several chapters about battles on the campaign in England, and watch me start skimming, though it was interesting reading about Roman viewpoints of Druidism and Christianity. Claudius becomes a less sympathetic character in this book, though I think the author intended it that way. Power corrupts and a lot of people have to die for Claudius to keep the position he never wanted in the first place and one which he intends to eliminate in order to restore Rome as a republic. One thing I did find amusing was Graves' way of taking incidents written in ancient histories as examples of how Claudius was an idiot, and explaining them away. I'm glad I read this for the sake of finishing the set of books and I'd be interested in reading more about the period, but overall I was disappointed.
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Pied Piper by Nevil Shute [Aug. 6th, 2005|05:22 pm]
Summer's here!
brandirosek
Title: Pied Piper
Author: Nevil Shute
Grade: A
Genre: Fiction

Summary: Amazon description: It is the summer of 1940 and in Europe the time of Blitzkreig. John Howard, a 70-year-old Englishman vacationing in France, cuts shorts his tour and heads for home. He agrees to take two children with him.

But war closes in. Trains fail, roads clog with refugees. And if things were not difficult enough, other children join in Howard's little band. At last they reach the coast and find not deliverance but desperation. The old Englishman's greatest test lies ahead of him.


Opinions: I really really liked this book, though it's hard to explain what makes it so effective. It's not a huge drama like some books set during World War 2, thought it is dramatic, and it's not even really suspenseful, since it's told in flashback and you know the hero is going to be ok. It's fascinating to watch how the war changes ordinary things and disrupts the everyday world. Howard is just an old man trying to get home from a fishing trip abroad and drop off two children as a favor to some acquaintances. What should be a one or two day trip straight from one point to another becomes a long and dangerous ordeal as the Germans invade and occupy France, and Howard finds himself trying to care for and protect five more children practically by accident. It's incredible how little things like a five year old with a fever, a bus breaking down, or two children speaking English can make the difference between getting home safely or being trapped in a hostile country. Howard is a great character; he's a quiet hero who doesn't even realize how heroic he is. He just wants to take care of the little strangers who quickly become 'his children'.
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Anonymous Rex, by Eric Garcia [Jul. 1st, 2005|02:04 pm]
Summer's here!

dammity
Title: Anonymous Rex
Author: Eric Garcia
Genre: Science fiction, detective, mystery
Grade: B+
Notes: Sorry...actually finished this book last week, just never got around to reviewing it. I might do more reviews now that this community is a tad more active...

Summary: It's like one of those detective novels, only in this alternate universe, dinosaurs never became extinct and they actually walk among humans in human suits. Recommended to me by my brother and Dave Barry.

Opinions: Okay...cute concept; however I feel it was driven into the ground occasionaly. I mean, the guy kept talking about all these famous people who were really dinos, and he kept talking about how dinos actually created the extinction myth, etc. It didn't hold my attention all that much because it was just like a noir detective novel...more like a Chandler one...that has a lot of characters, plot twists, and type characters -- the sexy and dangerous dame, the private detective that plays by his own rules, and so forth. This kind of confuses me...I had a hard time keeping everyone straight. I did like some of the humor in it...the main character stops to buy a trenchcoat and fedora so he can look the part at one point. Maybe this is why Dave Barry is quoted on the front cover saying "Very funny." I recommend this if you like this kind of stuff, and if you're looking for a nice fluff book (much like everything I read). I promise, the next book I review will be a scream!
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I, Claudius by Robert Graves [Jun. 30th, 2005|05:39 pm]
Summer's here!

brandirosek
Title: I, Claudius : From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius, Born 10 B.C., Murdered and Deified A.D. 54
Author: Robert Graves
Grade: B
Genre: Historical fiction

Summary: First of two books, the supposed autobiography of Claudius, one of first Julio Claudian Emporers of Rome. Considered an idiot because of his physical infirmities, Claudius survived the intrigues and poisonings of the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and the Mad Caligula to become emperor in 41 A.D.

Opinions: Not what I expected, but not bad. I wanted to read this book because I've seen part of the miniseries and wanted the book to fill in some missing parts. That did not happen. The mini series had to make up a lot of stuff in order to be as long as it is, and create a huge number of scenes that never occur at all in the book.

I know this book is loosely based on the writings of Suetonius, but I can't speak for how historically accurate it is. All the intrigue going on, and all the crazy behavior of the Imperial family makes for an interesting read, told from the point of view of one of the few morally decent members of it. Claudius comes off as a little too perfect in some ways, playing a vital role in events that I'm not even sure took place and in which he probably did not have that big of a role even if they did, but luckily he is not a Gary Stu. Other characters are better and he admits it, and even they aren't perfect. The baddies are the most interesting ones, especially Augustus' wife and widow Livia. Tracking her manipulations as she poisons or banishes most of her own family in order to get her son as Emperor is definitely fascinating to read.

As interesting as all this is, it's kind of hard to follow. A lot of the characters have similar names, and I completely lost track of who was related to who and how several times. There's also a page where Livia lists off who she murdered and how, and I had to keep referring back to it through the entire story to make sense of what was going on. Toss in a bunch of senators and conspirators, and it gets even more confusing. Someone's always trying to become Emperor, stay Emperor, or get rid of the Emperor, and sometimes it's hard to follow who's doing what.

All in all, a decent read. I'll try to read the sequel if I can, but I don't think these are books I'd be willing to pay book store price for.
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The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger [Jun. 13th, 2005|01:58 pm]
Summer's here!

dammity
Title: The Time Traveler's Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Grade: A+
Genre: romance, fiction

Summary: This book is about Henrey DeTamble, who has been traveling through time his whole life, and his wife Clare. It's really about the people in the book more than the actual concept of time travel. Thus, I can't classify this as science fiction or fantasy. It's hard to say what it's about, so I'll say it's mostly a romance, and I think Amazon.com referred to it as a "character study." You can read a more detailed description on the book itself, or on the Amazon page, but you really can't get a good idea of what it's about unless you read it.

Opinions: Very good book...probably now on my list of must-reads. It was just beautifully written, very sad, and the characters were very real. Everything about it was just...beautiful, for lack of a better word. I read this right after Good in Bed and I couldn't believe my luck...two good books in a row! This book came highly recommended to me by my brother and Rae, and I'm glad I read it. Warning: you may cry at the end, although I didn't just because I kind of knew what was going to happen (you'll understad when you read it) and it was more sorrowful than sad. It didn't end on a total down note though, and I thought the end was very satisfying. Another warning: there are a few explicit sex scenes...I think I counted two or three, but they are very brief and I often wondered why they were there since describing the sex wasn't important to the book, and kind of deterred from the author's writing style. I mean, it was important that the sex was there, because that is part of a marriage and all... Also highly recommended book, on the longish side (500+ pages) but it goes fast.
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Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner [Jun. 13th, 2005|01:39 pm]
Summer's here!

dammity
Title: Good in Bed
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Grade: A
Genre: chick lit

Summary: It's about Cannie, the usual 20-something in these types of books, and pretty much everything about her is typical chick lit stuff. Overweight: check. Works in the journalism field: check. Weird/overbearing mother and the slew of best friends who get her through stuff: check. So yeah, it was pretty typical, until, like, half-way through where it takes all these weird turns...by the end of the book I was almost in tears. I don't want to spoil anyone in case they want to read it, but the last 100 pages have so many climaxes it feels like a roller coaster. The basic premise for the book (which you can read from the back) is that Cannie's ex wrote a column about her in some magazine called "Loving a Larger Woman." You can probably guess it wasn't very flattering. This is the catalyst for a bunch of events to take place.

Opinions: So I really liked it, and it was a good book to get your mind off of school and academia. It's no great piece of literature, but most of the things I read aren't. It's a good piece of fluff, one of the better chick lit books I've read. One of my favorite poems was even in it...Philip Larkin. Anyway, I picked up another one of her books, just because it was on sale at the bookstore. And of course this other book is being made into a movie with someone icky like Cameron Diaz. Fast read, good writing style, and funny at times, but not laugh-out-loud really. I found myself doing that thing you do when you encounter a big jerk...my mouth drops open and I say "Uh!" Anyway, I also almost cried a few times, which is rare for me and books. Sometimes the main character got on my nerves, but then again her being all dependent on this jerk guy, and looking needy and vulnerable was not very typical of these books. It was a little more realistic...although I would never want to see this guy that she was all obsessed with, but that's just me. I don't think the author was trying to portray women as just needing a man, because if you read the book you'll find out why, but the fact that her main character wasn't all "I'm every woman!" a-la Chaka Khan was interesting and different. Anyway, highly recommended if you need a break from cerebral stuff...
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A book call it [Jun. 8th, 2005|10:27 pm]
Summer's here!

karmaa1974
have anyone every read the book "A child call It"? wanna talk about it hit me up, i thin it was a cool book.
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The Daily Show with Jon Stewart presents America (the book) [Dec. 29th, 2004|05:47 pm]
Summer's here!

dammity
[Current Music |"Strangelove" -- Depeche Mode]

Title: America (the book)
Author(s): The writers of The Daily Show...basically a lot of people.
Genre: Humor, history, politics...I'm placing this one under the humor category
Grade: A++++++++

Summary: A guide to democracy in America by the writers of The Daily Show. On Amazon.com it says "In AMERICA (THE BOOK), Jon Stewart and The Daily Show writing staff offer their insights into our unique system of government, dissecting its institutions, explaining its history and processes, and exploring the reasons why concepts like one man, one vote, government by the people, and every vote counts have become such popular urban myths. Topics include: Ancient Rome: The First Republicans; The Founding Fathers: Young, Gifted, and White; The Media: Can it Be Stopped?; and more!" This is basically it.

Opinions: This book was GREAT! I laughed at almost every page! It was just very very funny. I'd say the funniest book I've read all year. Very well written, and the thing that cracked me up every time was the fact that it was in the form of a textbook. I mean, when I was in middle school I remember the textbooks with their random bold terms and their "Did you know?" blurbs. Also, there are lots of pictures and diagrams in this book, so reading goes by pretty fast. I finished the book in a few days. I also liked how it wasn't really political...I mean, you could tell that the writers were obviously liberal, but they didn't talk about politics on every page and really pound it in. There were a lot of funny jokes on the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, and other history-type things. I also liked the articles by Samantha Bee about Canada. Only negative about the book was it was physically big, so it was hard for me to read before I went to bed every night, which is when I read the most. But I managed it. Man, no wonder this book has been number one on the bestseller list for a million weeks. I should read The Da Vinci Code and Tuesdays with Morrie or The Five People You Meet in Heaven to see what all the fuss is about. Anyway, I recommend this book to everyone!!!
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Peter and the Starcatchers, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson [Dec. 21st, 2004|05:51 pm]
Summer's here!

dammity
Title: Peter and the Starcatchers
Authors: Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Genre: Young adult, fiction
Grade: B+

Summary: This is basically a prequel to Peter Pan. It kind of explains the whole flying thing, and the fact that he never ages, as well as lots of stuff from the book.

Opinions: Okay, first of all this book was waaaay longer than it needed to be. It was like 450 pages! I mean, Dave Barry is no J.K. Rowling...he's not supposed to make ridiculously long books for kids. Anyway, you may know that the entire reason I read this one is because Dave Barry was one of the authors. The other guy is unimportant, since he's not Dave Barry, but I believe they are in the same band. This is the book that my mom got signed by Dave Barry for me...on the first page it says "To Heather...ARRRRR! From, Dave Barry." So, yeah, the book was okay...I just felt that a lot of parts dragged. There were, like, 79 chapters...and the chapter on starstuff bored me to tears. According to my mom, this book is chock full of typos, but when I read it, I didn't see any. I found one mistake where they used the wrong person's name...but I found that when I consciously looked for typos, I couldn't read the book. I also didn't like how there was a big climax in the middle of the novel. What is up with that? Some parts were funny, but not Dave Barry funny... Everything about this book that I didn't like I will blame on the other guy who is not one of my favorite authors. Nice illustrations in the novel. So many simultaneous storylines that I often forgot what was happening to some characters. Final thoughts: An okay read, not that quick and only a page-turner towards the end. I give it a B+ because it's Dave Barry and it didn't suck.
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