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Archive for January, 2012

Miss Timmins’ School For Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy

Posted by Caitie F on January 28, 2012

Title: Miss Timmins; School for Girls 
Author: Nayana Currimbhoy
Paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pub Date: June 21,2011
Rating: ++++

Summary from goodreads:

A murder at a British boarding school in the hills of western India launches a young teacher on the journey of a lifetime PIn 1974, three weeks before her twenty-first birthday, Charulata Apte arrives at Miss Timmins’ School for Girls in Panchgani. Shy, sheltered, and running from a scandal that disgraced her Brahmin family, Charu finds herself teaching Shakespeare to rich Indian girls in a boarding school still run like an outpost of the British Empire. In this small, foreign universe, Charu is drawn to the charismatic teacher Moira Prince, who introduces her to pot-smoking hippies, rock and’ roll, and freedoms she never knew existed.

Then one monsoon night, a body is found at the bottom of a cliff, and the ordered worlds of school and town are thrown into chaos. When Charu is implicated in the murder, a case three intrepid schoolgirls take it upon themselves to solve, Charu’s real education begins. A love story and a murder mystery, Miss Timmins’ School for Girls is, ultimately, a coming-of-age tale set against the turbulence of the 1970s as it played out in one small corner of India

Review:

Murder at a boarding school. What can be more  exciting or interesting than that? Not much. Add that it takes place in India and is a great coming-of -age story for one of the teachers instead of the student and I had a feeling I would be in love with the book.

And I was. The book had a rich and beautiful setting, not only the physical landscape, but the boarding school and the rigid rules alongside the wildness of  Prince and her friends and Carhu’s new feelings and actions.

The two different perspectives were a great addition to the story. It added suspense to the mystery and showed a new perspective to both the investigation and Indian culture.

The only issue with the book is that it was slow at time. Usually that would have annoyed me, but even when it was slow, it showed the life Charu had and how she grew up and the struggles in the suddenly changes and heartbreaks. Her family problems were the second mystery of the book and watching Charu find out the past made everything that was going on in the present even more impactful.

This was a wonderful mystery that is shocking and really fun to read!

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Bed by David Whitehouse

Posted by Caitie F on January 21, 2012

Title: Bed 
Author: David Whitehouse
Hardcover: 256 pages
Pub Date: August 2, 2011
Publisher: Scribner (Simon and Schuster)
Rating: +++

Summary from publisher:

Mal Ede, a child of untamed manners and unbounded curiosity, is the eccentric eldest son of an otherwise typical middle-class family. But as the wonders of childhood fade into the responsibilities of adulthood, Mal’s spirits fade too. On his twenty-fifth birthday, disillusioned, Mal goes to bed—back to his childhood bed—and never emerges again.

Narrated by Mal’s shy, diligent younger brother, Bed details Mal’s subsequent extreme and increasingly grotesque transformation: immobility and a gargantuan appetite combine, over the course of two decades, to make him the fattest man in the world. Despite his seclusion and his refusal to explain his motivations, Mal’s condition earns him worldwide notoriety and a cult of followers convinced he is making an important statement about modern life. But Mal’s actions will also change the lives of his haunted parents, his brother and the woman they both love, Lou.

Reviewed:

When I read the description of the book, I thought I would love it. Then reading it became a little of a chore. It was not a bad book, I do think that if you like the description you should borrow it from the library. It just moved so slowly at times.

But even in the slow moments, the writing was beautiful. The comments on society were spot on and there were many points that had me thinking about: why many go on living a life they see nothing in, encouraging negative behaviors in those we love, and trying to put our own dreams ahead sometimes. It looked at society and these issues in a fresh way.

The book was funny at times. Reading about Mal’s antics as a child had be laughing really hard, but some of the humor felt very British and, while I tend to love British humor, I just didn’t think it was funny. I found some of it gross, especially when hearing about Mal weighing 100 stones and the elaborate descriptions. That was not for me.

The book had its ups and downs, but David Whitehouse is an excellent writer and I look forward to seeing what else he writes.

 

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This SOPA $hit Just Got Personal

Posted by Caitie F on January 19, 2012

I wasn’t going to post about this. Many others have said it, and have said it better. But something happened today that made me see that I had to say something. And the first thing you need to know is that it doesn’t matter is SOPA or PIPA pass, the government can already do what they want.

Like today, when they shut down the file sharing website megaupload.com. If you want to see what happened and why, you can head over to the article on Techland

But it wasn’t JUST a file sharing site. It was also a way to store things. Which is what I used it for. In 2005 I bought a lifetime premium membership, which meant it would ALWAYS be stored there. . At one point, it was just a backup…but as external hard drives crashed, computers died, and files got lost. So there are some things that got lost completely when they shut it down.

Here is an example of the things that were on there

2 gigabytes of pictures
Every draft of my husband’s books, short stories, and plays
Lesson plans and projects that my husband uses in school
All the papers, writing samples, and everything I have ever written (which I still use as writing samples and references)
A backup of all of my music and a lot of my husband’s (for our own personal use)

That doesn’t sound like anything Universal would have a problem with.

Yet my stuff is also gone.

And what does this have to do with SOPA/PIPA? Well if it passes, this kind of thing will happen a LOT more often. Your website has a video that contains copy-written information? Your entire site is shut down! You use too much of a quote from a book you reviewed? Your entire site gets shut down!

And if this is any precedent, it gets shut down first and investigated later.

This shit is bad. And we have to stop it. Contact your Senators and Representatives. Make sure they know what you think about this important issue!

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Pure by Julianna Baggott

Posted by Caitie F on January 16, 2012

Title: Pure
Author: Julianna Baggott
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publication Date: 2/8/2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Rating: +++++

Summary from goodreads:

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

Review:

I am posting this review almost a month before publication because you need to get excited about this book. There have been so many comparisons to The Hunger Games lately, and I don’t think a single one has been accurate. Even this comparison is not accurate, but that is because it is somehow even better. I thought Katniss’ trials were the be all and end all for YA dystopian, but I was wrong. This is.

The world that has been created is disturbing. Not only because of the mass murder that wiped out most of the civilization of the United States, but with how realistic it felt. Some dystopian book fells like they could never happen. But the idea of the rich and privileged surviving without a scratch while all the others are forced to die and suffer in almost unimaginable ways? That is the kind of “end of the world as we know it” that I can believe is possible. It made the need for power and manipulation even more gripping.

I always say that a great world and plot are not enough (though they are both stellar in this novel), that it always comes down to the characters and how the reader feels about them. Each and every character in this book is mufti-dimensional. They are all always fighting many battles both internally and externally. In a world where survival is key, the decisions they make for each other change everything. I will not go character by character because so much of the fun in reading this book was finding out who they were.

Even before publication, film rights have been sold. This book would make an excellent movie, but I have no idea how it could be PG-13. There are disturbing images that are incredibly necessary.  Even as a young teen, I would have been able to handle them, but it is something to think about before you pick up the book.

This book is one of the best books I have ever read. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series and I hope everyone else enjoys it as much as I did.

Posted in Review | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

TSS: The Adjustment Bureau

Posted by Caitie F on January 15, 2012

 

We just finished watching The Adjustment Bureau starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. I thought it looked interesting when it was in theaters, but couldn’t justify seeing it, so we waited until it was on TV. Yeah, I wish I ahd seen it when it was in theaters!

The movie was fantastic. While it may look like your typical action movie, it is based on a Philip K. Dick story, so that is the first clue that it isn’t typical at all.

It looks at the age old argument of pre-destination vs. free will and turns it a little on its head. I am not giving anything away,but it is just fantastic and thought-provoking.

The cast is phenomenal, the acting is stellar, and the filmography is just beautiful. There are shots that made me drop my jaw because it was so stunning.

So yeah, do yourself a favor and rent/Netflix/ somehow find this amazing movie!

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Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner

Posted by Caitie F on January 11, 2012

Title: Vaclav & Lena
Author: Haley Tanner
Hardcover: 292 pages
Pub Date: May 17th, 2011
Publisher: Dial Press (Random House)
Rating:  +++

Summary:

Set in New York’s Russian émigré community, Vaclav & Lena is a timeless love story from a stunningly gifted young novelist.

Vaclav and Lena, both the children of Russian émigrés, are at the same time from radically different worlds. While Vaclav’s burgeoning love of performing magic is indulged by hard-working parents pursuing the American dream, troubled orphan Lena is caught in a domestic situation no child should suffer through. Taken in as one of her own by Vaclav’s big-hearted mother, Lena might finally be able to blossom; in the naive young magician’s eyes, she is destined to be his “faithful assistant”…but after a horrific discovery, the two are ripped apart without even a goodbye. Years later, they meet again. But will their past once more conspire to keep them apart

Review:

This book was a lovely debut. I enjoyed the life as an immigrant story line. Every person looked at coming to America differently and tried to fit into the melting pot in their own ways. The differences between Raisa (Vaclav’s mother) and her husband are astounding. Their relationship kept me more interested than even the two main characters. I really wanted to see her come out of her shell a little more and assert herself. She was actual my favorite character in the novel!

The relationship between Vaclav and Lena was complicated. There were times I wanted to shake her and tell her to stop being so mean. There were more times I wanted to shake him and tell him to stop being so naive. They were just so frustrating, but in a good way since that meant that they could grow and change.

One thing I really didn’t like was the huge gap in what happened to them when they were separated. Some of it was filled in, but I think there was a chance to explore how they got to be young adults. There also is a kind of traumatic event towards the end that gets glossed over and i wish they would have shown the affect on Lena and if they were ever really able to reconcile it and move on.

But don’t think it was a bad book, it was a lovely quick read.

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The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Posted by Caitie F on January 8, 2012

Title: The Art of Fielding 
Author: Chad Harbach
Hardcover: 512 pages
Pub Date:  Sept 7, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Rating: ++++

Summary from goodreads:

At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.

Henry’s fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne, Henry’s gay roommate and teammate, becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz, the Harpooners’ team captain and Henry’s best friend, realizes he has guided Henry’s career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight, Guert’s daughter, returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.

As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. In the process they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment–to oneself and to others.

Review:

I have been seeing this book for months, yet it was still under the radar until I really looked at the title and realized it was about baseball. Now I love baseball. I went to my first professional game when I was very young and grew up going to at least four or five games a year and watching the rest on TV. So I picked up the book. But don’t ignore this book if you don’t like baseball.

Because it really isn’t just about baseball. Baseball is actually a very small part of what this book is about. It is about becoming an adult, about learning your limits and how to put yourself first. It is about finding what you want, working hard, and sometimes still not getting it. It is about addiction and mistakes. So basically, it is about life.

Harbach masterfully writes characters that feel real, even though they are a little larger than life. He lets the reader learn things about the characters before they even know it about themselves, whic makes the reader care about the character even more.

Yet what impressed me most about his storytelling is what made me most irked at the story. Some of the character don’t change. They don’t get better, they don’t get what they want or need, and they aren’t truly happy in the end, yet there are some that do, but not without some loss or in-completion.

Last night after I finished reading the book, I really had t o think how I would rate it since the ending disappointed me. Yet I couldn’t bring myself to really look at it as a bad thing because it wasn’t the ending the reader wanted, but how often in life does everything work out? Sometimes it does and those times are great. But a lot of the time there are bumps along the way no matter how hard we try to do the right thing.

If you are looking for a great read, even if the ending isn’t entirely happy, I highly recommend you read this book!

Posted in Review | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

Posted by Caitie F on January 5, 2012

Title: The Time Machine 
Author: H. G. Wells
Hardcover:  124 pages
Year Published: 1895
Rating: ++++

Summary from goodreads:

When the Time Traveler courageously stepped out of his machine for the first time, he found himself in the year 802,700–and everything had changed. H.G. Wells’s famous novel of one man’s astonishing journey beyond the conventional limits of the imagination is regarded as one of the great masterpieces in the literature of science fiction.

Review:

I wanted to read a novella and when I saw that this is considered the first science fiction book ever, I knew it was something I wanted to read.

It was really good, when you consider that it is the first. These ideas were not cliche and nothing had been done before. I had to keep reminding myself of that and when I did I was delightfully surprised.

The writing is great. The idea of the future is unique and, over 100 years after it was written, still makes sense and fits how our society is going today into the future. The reactions of The Time Traveller’s acquaintances is also fascinating. No one has a name, they just are what they do. There is “The Medicine Man”, “The Editor”, “The Psychologist” and more. They react exactly how you would expect people in these professions to react and it is a accurate portrayal.

Without this book, science fiction may not be what we know and love today. Take a chance to see where it all started!

Posted in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, Review | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

1001 Books to Read Before You Die Reviews

Posted by Caitie F on January 5, 2012

Here is where you can link to your reviews of books on the list!

Just add it to the Mr Linky!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments »

The Sisters by Nancy Jensen

Posted by Caitie F on January 4, 2012

Title: The Sisters
Author: Nancy Jensen
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publication Date: November 8, 2011
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Rating: ++++

Summary from goodreads:

Growing up in hardscrabble Kentucky in the 1920s, with their mother dead and their stepfather an ever-present threat, Bertie Fisher and her older sister Mabel have no one but each other—with perhaps a sweetheart for Bertie waiting in the wings.  But on the day that Bertie receives her eighth-grade diploma, good intentions go terribly wrong, setting off a chain of misunderstandings that will send the sisters on separate paths and reverberate through their daughters’ and granddaughters’ lives.
What happens when nothing turns out as you planned?  From the Depression through World War II and Vietnam, and smaller events both tragic and joyful. Bertie and Mabel forge unexpected identities and raise daughters—and sisters—of their own, learning that love and betrayal are even more complicated than they seem.

Review:

I don’t know the last time I read such a depressing novel. Not to say it wasn’t a good book, it really, was. It was just so sad. A sister does something rash to save her sister from the disturbing abuse she has endured for years and the younger sister refuses see that there is more to it than meets the eye. Instead of being safe together, they never see each other again.

Luckily, it is not all sadness and sorrow. Mabel (the older sister) actually has a good life and reading about her side of the family is a joy. Both sides struggle with the horrors of war, and watching how she approaches it for the good of all is beautiful and thought-provoking.

I wanted to smack her sister though. Not only does she ignore Mabel’s letters explaining what happen, but she is also not a very good person or mother. She is mean to her relatives and it bitter for her entire life, even though she has the chance to change things. It was a great example of how regret and anger can eat you up inside.

All in all, it is a fantastically written book of beauty and sorrow. It is one of the better multi-generational books I have read (and wow are they popular now!). If you like this kind of historical fiction, it is worth a read…just be ready for some sadness.

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