Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

October 17

Comments: 6

Book Notes: Until I Get Around to Proper Reviews

by Ann-Katrina

Hold on to your bookmarks, I’ve got a lot of book notes. I figured that since I have so many books waiting for their proper spotlight, I should give a few quick updates in the interim.

Koko Be Good by Jen Wang

Koko Be Good The artwork is heart-stopping, but the story is lukewarm. I cannot speak enough about Wang’s artistic style and eye. I even got a bit envious. However, when it came down to the writing, pacing, and clarity of the story, I winced. That’s why I’m ambivalent.

I want to tell you to run out and buy it just so you can stare at the pretty pictures, but I fear you’d hate me when you got around to reading the convoluted and mediocre story. So, for now, I’ll just say if you’re going to buy it, get it used.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Wicked Lovely There was something about this book that dug into me and made me continue reading, but there’s something else that made me say meh when I finished. The writing was adequate (though it could have used some more editing), and so was the storyline. ‘

I think where this book failed for me was in the characterization. None of the characters truly felt genuine and I never did latch on to the plot. In ways it felt too convenient and had too many holes. Still, it wasn’t the worst book I’d ever read, plus it was quick. I’d recommend this when you’re bored and just want something quick and fluffy with a slightly dark edge.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger GamesCatching FireMockingjay

I did it. I finally drank the Kool-Aid. I don’t even know where to begin with this series. I saw the first book while I was walking through a department store, it was $6 and I’d been hearing so many people talking about it that I just plopped it down in my cart. And for about a week it sat unread and unloved on my bookshelf. Then, out of the blue, I saw it and grabbed it and devoured it.

I was near tears because I was coming up on the last few pages and didn’t have the second book. But I couldn’t stop myself, I had to finish and when I did, I was numb. It was three whole days before I was able to pick up another book to read. Eventually I read all three of the books with the same zeal (the third book less so mostly because I was afraid of what was coming).

This series is raw, bleak, and unforgiving. Collins held no punches and I think that’s why I was so enamoured. I laughed, I cried, I balked right along with Katniss. I felt all of her emotions so vividly. The books sucked me right in.

The third book, I will admit, took some prodding since I was reluctant to read more than two chapters at a time. Everything in it was so bleak. I just didn’t understand how anyone was to recover. Then it picked up toward the middle and I simply couldn’t put it down. I’m going to have a hard time putting into words everything these books have done to me. I can’t wait for the movies to come out and I hope they don’t frack it up.

Radiance by Alyson Noel

Radiance This is my first book by Alyson Noel and only grabbed it on a whim. The cover looked interesting, the synopsis grabbed me (to be honest, because it sounded similar to a short story I’d written), and I pegged it for a light read. Ultimately I made a good decision. The book was a quick, light read although it dealt with some heavy subjects (death and coping).

It was also interesting to learn that it was a spinoff of the Evermore series I’ve been hearing about, but never felt compelled to read. Even after reading Radiance I still don’t feel compelled to read it, but probably will eventually.

The writing was well done, spare and evocative; the protagonist was spunky and felt natural; and the storyline held my interest, but I didn’t care much for the heavy new-age spin. Overall though I have few complaints about this book.

The House of Dead Maids by Clare B. Dunkle

The House of Dead Maids Perfect book for the Halloween season. It’s a prequel to Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, but you needn’t have read it to enjoy The House of Dead Maids. This book stands well on its on and is truly a chilling gothic ghost story—well-written, and strange.

It’s a rare thing when a contemporary horror novel, especially written for children, can get me to think twice about the sounds I hear outside my window, but this book did exactly that. Worth every penny.

The Amulet Books 1-3 by Kazu Kibuishi

The StonekeeperThe Stonekeeper's CurseThe Cloud Searchers

I have a new favorite graphic novel series. Or, at least it’s in the Top 5. The illustrations are amazing, as is the coloring, as is the story. OK, I’ll admit the story is a bit reminiscent of some other hero tales of the past, but the other areas of the graphic novel series makes up for that. Plus the characters are quirky and entertaining. Plus, the editing and pacing are worthy of note.

With as many graphic novels as I’ve seen published with shoddy writing and inconsistent stories and art, it’s clear that Kibuishi takes his time and carefully crafts his graphic novels before sending it off to the masses. I cross my fingers and hope that it doesn’t change with future issues.

Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh

Mrs. Kimble This is the product of a commenter’s recommendation. And I’m glad I listened. This book held my interest from the beginning to the very end.

It starts on a strange note, with a mysterious man dying in his car while waiting for a drawbridge to lower, and then travels back through time and shows us who this man is and how he affected the lives of three (actually more) different women.

This book is a tapestry. All of the lives, though separate, are connected. Though there were some editing faux pas, noticeable writing quirks, and few areas where the thread was dropped, it was still an expertly woven story.

This is a book for people who enjoy gawping at the lives and inner workings of others rather than plot-driven tales. It’s languid in its telling and will leave you with much to ponder afterward.

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March 19

Comments: 5

Review: Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot

by Ann-Katrina

boy-meets-girl

Back Cover of Boy Meets Girl

Meet Kate Mackenzie. She:

  • works for the T.O.D. (short for Tyrannical Office Despot, also known as Amy Jenkins, Director of the Human Resources Division at the New York Journal)
  • is sleeping on the couch because her boyfriend of ten years refuses to commit
  • can’t find an affordable studio apartment anywhere in New York City
  • thinks things can’t get any worse.

They can. Because:

  • the T.O.D. is making her fire the most popular employee in the paper’s senior staff dining room
  • that employee is now suing Kate for wrongful termination, and
  • now Kate has to give a deposition in front of Mitch Hertzog, the scion of one of Manhattan’s wealthiest law families, who embraces everything Kate most despises…but also happens to have a nice smile and a killer bod.

The last thing anybody–least of all Kate Mackenzie–expects to find in a legal arbitration is love. But that’s the kidno f thing that can happen when…BOY MEETS GIRL.

Three Quick Points About Boy Meets Girl

  • Point 1: Voyeurism on a whole new level. The entire story unfolds via correspondence such as office emails, forms, IMs, phone messages, lists, and journal entries. Very clever.
  • Point 2: Where’d the time go? Since the story unfolds via correspondence, it’s difficult (if not completely impossible) to track how much time has passed. That also contributes to the disingenuous evolution of Kate and Mitch’s relationship.
  • Point 3: Predictable ending with a nifty twist. This being the type of book that it is, it won’t be a surprise that girl ends up with prince charming, but it’s the twist at the end that makes it worthwhile.

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5 Comments, add yours...

November 10

Comments: 5

Review: Dating da Vinci by Malena Lott

by Ann-Katrina

Dating da Vinci by Malena Lott - Book Cover

Back Cover of Dating da Vinci

A gorgeous young Italian, with nowhere to go…

His name just happens to be Leonardo da Vinci. When he walks into Ramona Elise’s English class, he’s a twenty-five-year-old immigrant, struggling to forge a new life in America—but he’s lonely, has nowhere to live, and barely speaks English…

She knows she shouldn’t take him home…

Picking up the pieces of her life after the death of her beloved husband, linguist and teacher Ramona Elise can’t help but be charmed by her gorgeous new student. And when he calls her “Mona Lisa” she just about loses her heart…

Three Quick Points About Dating da Vinci

  • Point 1: Leonardo da Vinci is hot. Really hot. I have to admit that his character was well-crafted to make the ladies (and possibly some men) drool. Drool like a rabid mangy mongrel and make no apologies for it. Up until he peed the bed.
  • Point 2: Unfortunately, the remaining characters (except a few) had trouble finding their voices. For the most part, they’d be traveling along quite nicely when a piece of stray dialog that rang absolutely false for the character would present itself.
  • Point 3: Feel good at its finest. Despite the ending being highly predictable, it still elicits that warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

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September 27

Comments: 4

Review: Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

by Ann-Katrina

Can You Keep a Secret? Cover

From the Back Cover of Can You Keep a Secret?

Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little secrets:

Secrets from her boyfriend:
I’ve always thought Connor looks a bit like Ken. As in Barbie and Ken.

Secrets from her mother:
I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom with Danny Nussbaum while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching Ben-Hur

Secrets she wouldn’t share with anyone in the world:
I have no idea what NATO stands for. Or even what it is.

Until she spills them all to a handsome stranger on a plane. At least, she thought he was a stranger…. Until Emma comes face-to-face with Jack Harper, the company’s elusive CEO, a man who knows every single humiliating detail about her…

Three Quick Points About Can You Keep a Secret?

  • Point 1: Emma Corrigan bears a striking resemblance to Bridget Jones–not necessarily in appearance, but personality, deed and sheer life circumstances.
  • Point 2: This book redefines the statement laugh out loud funny. From beginning to end, I found myself pausing to have a good belly laugh at some of the antics and situations in which Emma found herself.
  • Point 3: The British quips and expressions were rather charming from my Americanized viewpoint. Although I’m still not entirely certain what a jumper is, am still unsure whether snogging is kissing or having sex, and it took me a few pages to recognize that having a row meant having an argument, I found reading through it all added to the amusement.

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