Showing posts with label deja vu review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label deja vu review. Show all posts

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Meme Break

Hello, lovely readers!  Believe it or not, January is a very busy time for the Well-Read Redhead.  I work at a university, and students return to campus this week and next for the new semester.  I'm also teaching an online course (starting at the same time).  And, I'm home 2 weekdays/week with Small Fry (which, while awesome and fun, doesn't give me much time to brush my teeth, let alone blog).

And oh yeah, I guess it goes without saying that I'd love some time to read my MASSIVE PILE OF BOOKS.

As a result, I need some TIME.  And thus, I think I'm taking a meme break for a while.  I'll turn Small Fry Saturdays into a "whenever the mood strikes" sort of thing, rather than every Saturday.  Probably no Deja Vu Reviews or Top 10 Tuesdays for a while either, though I do have some Wondrous Words posts scheduled and I love sharing my nerdy words, so that might stay.

Overall, I think for a while I will be mostly focusing on my book reviews and the occasional discussion post (loved all the responses to my "where do books take you?" post last week!).

Posting may be more spread out than usual, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, yes?  Admit it, YOU MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE.

In the meantime, be cool mah bebehs, and be on the lookout for:

-my first Foodies Read review of the year, and

-the worst Stephen King book review I have ever had to write.  Srsly.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Deja Vu Review (6): Favorite book covers

The Deja Vu Review is hosted every Sunday by Brittany at The Book Addict's Guide.  It's a chance to mini-review books that I read in my pre-blogging days.  This week's topic is your favorite book cover(s)!  Here are two of my faves (with mini-reviews to go along).

The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen

I recently reviewed the final installment in Godbersen's second YA historical fiction series, The Lucky Ones .  But the covers of her first series take the cake for awesomeness.  Each cover features a different girl in a drop-dead gorgeous ball gown (fitting for the time period of the novel).  I am not a very "girly" girl, but even I turn green with envy when I see those things.  My favorite is the cover of Rumors; that red dress slays me.

To give you a short review: The Luxe (and its three subsequent novels) focuses primarily on four girls (Elizabeth, Diana, Penelope, and Lina) living among the New York City elite in 1899.  There are lover's quarrels, backstabbing, and murder: what else do you need?  Plus, the period details are excellent.  These books actually inspired me to read a nonfiction novel about this part of NYC's history (When The Astors Owned New York, by Justin Kaplan).  It was a perfect companion to Godbersen's drama-filled fictional story.

Under the Dome by Stephen King

I already mentioned this cover in a Follow Friday post way-back-when, but anyone asking me about my favorite book covers is going to have to hear about Under The Dome.  The cover of this book is simply amazing (and makes me so happy that I have a hardcover copy, so I can pull the jacket off to really look at it!).  It's eye-catching and extremely detailed.  As you read the novel, you can refer to the cover and understand some of the little things that were added into the picture.  LOVE.

As for the book itself, it is, also, amazeballs.  Definitely one of Stephen King's epics, in the manner of The Stand and It.  It's crazy-long, but in that 1000+ pages, the twists and the energy do.not.stop.  LONG story short: the town of Chester's Mill is suddenly cut off from the rest of the world by an invisible dome surrounding it.  No one can get in or out, and even the air has trouble passing through.  The citizens need to find a way to deal with the dome...and each other.

King does a great job getting you into the (massive) cast of characters.  You root for the good guys, you can't wait to see the bad guys meet a grisly end, and even the side characters are fleshed out well enough that you feel a bit invested in them.  Blood and gore?  Yes, but the real story here is the frightening way the town changes as its citizens deal with the realities of the dome.  This book is one of the many reasons I love King so very much.

What are your favorite book covers?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Deja Vu Review (5)

The Deja Vu Review is hosted every Sunday by Brittany at The Book Addict's Guide.  It's a chance to mini-review books that I read in my pre-blogging days.  This week's topic is classics!  Here are two of my faves.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

When I was in high school, I found it really difficult to enjoy books that we were assigned to read for class.  (Sorry, Mr. Henderson and Mrs. Roth. Truth.)  Because we didn't just enjoy them--we analyzed and interpreted the crap out of them, sometimes until I wanted to tear my hair out.  It took a lot of the fun out of the whole reading thing.

So it should tell you something that when I read this book in high school, I loved it.  And then I re-read it 8 years later, and I loved it even more.  Catherine and Heathcliff = the most angrily passionate romance ever.  Their whole relationship is so crazy to me, it's like a train wreck that I can't look away from.  Plus, the writing style is great because the story is told by Lockwood and Nelly Dean, two characters who, while very familiar with Catherine, Heathcliff, and the other characters, are a bit distanced from the actual events that they are describing.  This leads to a lot of narrative bias, and as a reader you will be left wondering what the "true" story is at times.  I'm a sucker for unique uses of POV.

Oops, here I go--analyzing the crap out of this book.  I guess I must have learned something in school, eh?

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

This is a "newer" classic (published in the 1940's), but a classic nonetheless.  If there was ever a book that earned placement in the "coming of age" genre, this is it.  Young Francie Nolan is one of my favorite narrators of all time.  She is growing up poor in Brooklyn around the turn of the century, and while this would probably leave many kids feeling downtrodden or apathetic, Francie is smart, quick, and displays more than a little boldness as she tells the story of her difficult upbringing.  The story unfolds beautifully and the relationships between Francie and the rest of her family are fascinating.  I will definitely be giving this a re-read one day.

Bonus: it contains one of my favorite book-related quotes!:
"Francie thought that all the books in the world were in that library and she had a plan about reading all the books in the world."

What are your favorite classics?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Deju Vu Review (4)

The Deja Vu Review is hosted every Sunday by Brittany at The Book Addict's Guide.  It's a chance to mini-review books that I read in my pre-blogging days.  This week's topic is novels with strange names.  And both of mine happen to be dystopian!

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

I loved Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, so when I saw the unique title on her list of other novels, my interest was piqued.  And the first chapter helped, too--the main character, Snowman, wakes up in a world where it seems that all other humans are dead.  How can you not be taken in by such a scenario?

While I did find the book enjoyable, I wouldn't say it's one of my favorite dystopians.  As you learn more about Snowman's problematic situation, you get his backstory, which includes Crake (his former best friend) and Oryx, a woman they both loved.  After the initial "OMG what is happening here" moment in the first chapter, I felt that the plot got a bit slow and disjointed.  For a dystopian novel, it doesn't have a very energetic pace, and it jumps around in a way that is very confusing.  However, in the last quarter or so, things started to come together, and the climax at the end left me interested enough to seek out the novel's sequel, The Year of the Flood.  Overall, not the best dystopian I've ever read, but it's intriguing in terms of world-building, and you'll like it if you have your thinking cap on.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Oy vey, this book.  This book is the first book I ever (EVER!) did not finish.  This and Middlemarch (I gave up on them on the same day. It was a frustrating day).

I still feel I have the right to (mini) review it though, because I spent over 6 weeks on it.  Which is eternity for me!  It's 954 pages long and I read about 600 of them in that time, so I have to get a little credit here.

Most people I talk to ADORE 1Q84.  Cannot say enough good things about it.  I, on the other hand, found it extremely tedious and boring.  It centers on Aomame, a young hit-woman who enters 1Q84, a parallel existence to her life in the year 1984.  At the same time, it follows Tengo, a writer whose complicated story begins to mingle with Aomame's as time goes on.  The plot is much more complex than all that, but Aomame and Tengo's relationship is the basis for all else in the novel.

Why did I dislike it?  One, it was just so.darn.slow.  I don't mind wordy/long novels, if they actually take me somewhere, but I felt stuck in park for the majority of these pages.  And two, the characters.  They were weird and quirky in a way that made me completely unable to connect with them or their intentions.  Plus, one of them always speaks in a completely flat, monotone voice (always states questions, doesn't "ask" them), which drove me nuts.  I found none of them likeable and after a while, just couldn't muster the energy to care about their lives anymore.  Overall, a huge no-go for me.

Do you have any good books with weird names?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Deja Vu Review (3)

The Deja Vu Review is hosted every Sunday by Brittany at The Book Addict's Guide.  It's a chance to mini-review books that I read pre-blog.  This week's topic is mystery novels.  I went through my Goodreads list and realized I haven't read nearly as many mysteries as I thought.  I guess I need to rectify that!

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

I know, I know, I've mentioned Dennis Lehane way too much around here already.  But when I think of good mystery novels, Shutter Island is tops on my list.  The story begins in 1954 with Teddy Daniels, a US Marshal who is investigating a missing patient from the mental hospital on Shutter Island.  However, this mystery about the patient quickly escalates into a tangled web of suspense, as Daniels learns more about the hospital, and reveals information about his own past.

I love a mystery that makes me feel like I am working just as hard as the protagonist to figure out "whodunit".  Shutter Island made me feel that way, times ten.  I don't want to give too much away, but Lehane does a superb job building suspense, and the ending is probably one of my favorites in the history of ever.  If you haven't read this yet, you MUST!  (Bonus: the Scorcese film is phenomenal--one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I've ever seen.  Watch it when you're done reading!)

In The Woods by Tana French

I heard SO many good recommendations for this book, that I had to give it a try last year.   It opens with Detective Rob Ryan, who had 2 friends who disappeared (and were presumed murdered) when he was young.  He was present when they disappeared, but got severe amnesia and was never able to tell police what happened.  Nowadays, he’s a cop in Ireland who is called in to investigate a murder that happened disturbingly close to where his friends disappeared.  

I loved the suspense in this book.  I had some suspicions about who the murderer actually was, but the way it came together at the end was great.  However, there is one BIG detail that is not resolved in the novel, and I thought for sure it would be.  I was so puzzled at the end when it wasn’t solved, that I started searching online to see if there is a sequel or something (there isn’t).  I was super disappointed about it.  I can’t tell you what it is because it would be a huge spoiler alert, but trust me, it’s big.  Anyway, this is a great book in terms of thrills and suspense, but not entirely satisfying because of the way the end was wrapped up.

What are some of your favorite mysteries?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Deja Vu Review (2)

The Deja Vu Review is hosted every Sunday by Brittany at The Book Addict's Guide.  It's a chance to mini-review books that I read pre-blog.  This week's topic is to choose some of the longest books you've read.  I was tempted to jump right to Stephen King (The Stand and Under the Dome?  Hello!).  But I read a lot of King, so I mixed it up.  Instead, I have 2 very different books to contribute!

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Yes, I read this monstrosity a few years ago.  It was my ultimate reading challenge for a long time; I had a vision in my head of completing W&P and automatically receiving a bejeweled crown and years of adoration from all that came into my presence.  Instead, I received looks of genuine puzzlement (" didn't do it for a class or anything?") and carpal tunnel after holding up that heavy tome for 3 months.

Okay, it wasn't as bad as all that.  It's actually a pretty decent novel (English professors the world 'round are keeling over at me calling War and Peace "pretty decent").  There are a lot of intersecting storylines, all sorts of romantic drama, and hello!  War!  With Napoleon!  Good action there.  It's hard to keep all the Russian names straight, and the second epilogue made me want to cry (it's very philosophical, and I may have skipped it), but otherwise, if you have the time, it's not the boring trudge that everyone makes it out to be.  The bonus is that it will make you interesting at cocktail parties.

I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

I told you I had two very different books to review!  I Am Charlotte Simmons is actually on my all-time favorites list.  It follows the title character as she begins her freshman year at fictional Dupont Univerity (a thinly-veiled Duke).  Charlotte is a bit sheltered, having been raised in a small North Carolina town.  She does not expect that she will so quickly have to deal with things like sex, drugs, and other debauchery when she reaches campus.  The book follows her throughout her first year, as her innocence and values are continually challenged, and she tries to discover herself through a new lens outside of her small town.

I read this book not long after I graduated from college, and I think that is a lot of why it spoke so loudly to me.  If you had the "traditional" 4-year university experience (living on campus, away from parents for the first time, etc), I'm sure at least some part of this book will resonate.  Wolfe does an awesome job of fleshing out Charlotte's character, and paints a realistic portrait of university life (as much as parents and college administrators probably wouldn't want to admit it).  Yes, it is long--but Wolfe takes his time telling Charlotte's story, and it's worth the extra pages.  I've been meaning to re-read this one for a while, because it's worth savoring again!

What are some of your longer reads?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Deja Vu Review

The Deja Vu Review is a new Sunday feature by Brittany at the Book Addict's Guide.  It's an opportunity to do mini-reviews of books that you read in your pre-blogging life.  Which basically means I could be doing Deja Vu reviews for the next 10 years of Sundays, and I STILL wouldn't cover everything...but I'll give it a try.

Two mini-reviews today...I picked one book that I 5-starred on Goodreads, and one that I 1-starred, just to mix things up.

(*Apparently, I scheduled this post before I realized there was a specific topic for the week. Rookie mistake! Ah well, I'll be on top of it next time.) :)

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King (5 stars on Goodreads)

This is a short-story collection published by King in 2010.  My first ever SK read was The Shining, some 15 years ago, and after getting hooked on that, my next pick was Four Past Midnight, one of his earlier story collections.  I've been in awe of his shorter works since then.  Stephen King crafts masterful novels, with more detail than you could possibly imagine, and yet he still knows how put together a short tale that gets you in the gut (sometimes literally, given the genre).

This book includes 4 stories: 1992, Big Driver, Fair Extension, and A Good Marriage.  In the afterword, King says he likes writing about "ordinary people in extraordinary situations", and that is what these four tales are all about.  Yes, they're terrifically creepy, but as I read each one, at some point I couldn't help putting myself in the main character's shoes and wondering what I would do in their situation.  He gets you emotionally involved...even as you're ready to jump out of your skin.

If you've never tried any SK short stories, start with these; you won't be disappointed!

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk (1 star on Goodreads)

I wanted so badly to like this novel, which I read back in 2010.  It came highly recommended by a friend, and I'd never read any Palahniuk, though I knew he was the mind behind Fight Club and Choke (both high on my TBR list).  However, this was the wrong one for me to start with.

The plot centers around a group of people who have all answered an ad for a writer's retreat.  But once they arrive, they are instead locked in a theater without food, water, or power.  They are in a fight to be the last survivor.  Each of the 23 chapters is told from a different POV as the characters reveal the stories that led them to this point.

While the premise does sound like something I'd be into, the content of this book is, in a word, disgusting.  I know Palahniuk was trying to make a point here about human nature, but the gore and violence in this book just felt pointless and over-the-top.  I'm all for blood and guts when it's called for (see above review, and basically every other King novel), but this was extreme for no reason.  My stomach still turns recalling some of the stories...eck.  So recommendation from me on this one.

Have you read either of these books?  Any recommendations for me so that I can see a better side of Palahniuk's work?
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