Monday, July 12, 2010

A Bad Year for the Bibliophile, A Great Year for the Mom

With all the commotion of Rin being born and the sleepless days and nights when he was little, I barely got any time to read.
Here are the best and the worst:

The best was Jasper Fforde's "Shades of Grey", the weirdest and most fun book I've read in a long time. I sighed when I finished it, but then gasped for joy when I saw on the overleaf at the back that a sequel is coming out. I can barely wait! (Just looked it up and it seems the sequel is already out! I'm ordering it now!) Anyone who likes strange fantasy/scifi/speculative future history with a side of WTF comedy should definitely pick it up.

And one honorable mention: The Chosen by Chaim Potok. I bought it ages ago and just got around to reading it this year. It's a bitter-sweet story of two smart but very different Jewish boys growing up in New York during the end of WW2 and their relationships with each other and with their fathers. It was worlds away from anything I've experienced but the quiet love and sadness should speak to anyone regardless of background.

The worst was "Book of the Dead." I had read some of Patricia Cornwell's mystery thrillers a number of years back and recalled them as having rather stilted dialogue, but otherwise good for genre-fiction. Boy, was I disappointed. Either my memory ahs failed me, or she's gone downhill quite a bit because this latest one was GARBAGE. No likable characters, no thrilling hunt for the killer, and nothing but boring soap-opera-esque drama from beginning to end. Blegh!

And now for the list; even counting re-reads I only clocked a measly 43 books. Here they are in reverse order:
(Also as you may have noticed. I've decied to give each one a ranking this time, from 1 to 10 stars with separate categories for literature, genre-fiction and non-fiction.)

April 2010
43: 24 Apr 10 Heartsick by Chelsea Cain GT-7☆
42: 12 Apr 10 Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell GT-1☆
41: 3 Apr 10 Aunts Are’t Gentelemen by P.G. Wodehouse (RR) GC-8☆
40: 1 Apr 10 Rebecca by Daphne DuMarier L-7☆

March 2010
39: 25 Mar 10 Bloody Mary by Carolly Erickson N-7☆
38: 10 Mar 10 The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope L-6☆
37: 5 Mar 10 Just After Sunset by Stephen King GH-6☆
36: 1 Mar 10 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest by Stieg Larsson GT-8☆

February 2010
35: 25 Feb 10 The Decameron by Giovanni Boccacio L-8☆
34: 20 Feb 10 A Perfect Red by Amy Butler Greenfield N-8☆
33: 8 Feb 10 No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy L-5☆

January 2010
32: 31 Jan 10 Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde GSF-9☆
31: 15 Jan 10 Salt by Mark Kurlansky N-8☆
30: 2 Jan 10 Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane GH-4☆

December 2009
29: ? Dec 09 The Chosen by Chaim Potok L-9☆

November 2009
28: ? Nov 09 The Help by Kathryn Stockett L-8☆

October 2009
27: 27 Oct 09 Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan L-7☆
26: 26 Oct 09 Otherland Book 4:SOSL by Tad Williams GSF-9☆
25: 17 Oct 09 Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barberry L-8☆
24: 15 Oct 09 Mind’s Eye by Hakan Nesser GM-6☆
23: 11 Oct 09 In the Wood by Tana French GM-7☆
22: 7 Oct 09 Sold by Patricia McCormick L-6☆
21: ? Oct 09 The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Re-read L-10☆

September 2009
20: 20 Sep 09 Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell GM-3☆

August 2009
19: 26 Aug 09 Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay GH-6☆
18: 25 Aug 09 Otherland Book 3:MOBG by Tad Williams Re-read GSF-10☆
17: 23 Aug 09 Escape by Carolyn Jessop N-7☆
16: 22 Aug 09 The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks N-7☆
15: 18 Aug 09 Otherland Book 2:ROBF by Tad Williams Re-read GSF-10☆
14: 14 Aug 09 Otherland Book 1: COGS by Tad Williams Re-read GSF-10☆
13: 4 Aug 09 Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro L-8☆

July 2009
12: 31 July 09 The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry L-8☆
11: 28 July 09 World War Z by Max Brooks Re-read GSF-9☆
10: 20 July 09 God? by William Lane Craig & Walter Sinott-Armstrong N-6☆
9: 13 July 09 The Book with No Name by Anonymous GA-5☆
8: 10 July 09 Kafka on the Shore by Murakami Haruki L-7☆
7: 8 July 09 The Reader by Bernhard Schlink L-7☆

June 2009
6: 25 June 09 Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup L-7☆
5: 20 June 09 Carry On Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse Re-read GC-9☆
4: 18 June 09 The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse Re-read GC-10☆

May 2009
3: 18 May 09 Powers by Ursula K. LeGuin GF-8☆
2: 16 May 09 The Pornographers by Nosaka Akiyuki L-6☆
1: 14 May 09 Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri L-7☆

Friday, September 04, 2009

Long Time No Post : Year Four

I've been neglecting this blog for more than a year now, but in case anyone still cares, here is my list for year four of the book blog project! I'm way to lazy to go through and put all the amazon links this time, but if you're interested in any of the titles I'm sure you know how to copy-pasta!

This year I read a lot of Swedish mysteries and I have to recommend to everyone Stig Larsson's series "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "The Girl Who Played with Fire." Absolutely gripping! Lisbeth Salander is one of the best characters i've come across in years and I'm eagerly awaiting the translation of the 3rd volume into English. Unfortunately the author died before completing the series.
This year I read several books on Mormonism/ FLDS for some reason, including the excellent murder- mystery/history/family drama "The 19th wife". Told from the perspective of a young lost boy trying to exonerate his mother (the 19th wife) for the murder of her polygamous husband, it switches back and forth from the present to the history of the Mormon religion, and the story of one of Brigham Young's many wives. Give it a read!

Here's the list.

April 2009

109: 21 Apr 09 Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup
108: 18 Apr 09 One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell
107: 15 Apr 09 The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
106: 13 Apr 09 Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
105: 9 Apr 09 Rumors by Anna Godbersen
104: 6 Apr 09: Kamikaze Girls by Takemoto Novala
103: 4 Apr 09 The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfiled
102: 1 Apr 09 How to Win Every Argument by Madsen Pirie
March 2009
101: 28 Mar 09 Death Comes as the End by Agatha Chistie
100: 27 Mar 09 The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
99: 23 Mar 09 The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
98: 19 Mar 09 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
97: 12 Mar 09 Show of Hands by Anthony McCarten
96: 9 Mar 09 Losing Kei by Suzanne Kamata
95: 5 Mar 09 Still Alice by Lisa Genova
94: 2 Mar 09 Beautiful People by Wendy Holden
93: 1 Mar 09 47 Rules of Highly Effective Bank Robbers by Troy Cook
February 2009
92: 21 Feb 09 Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast by Lewis Wolpert
91: 15 Feb 09 The Return of the Dancing Master by Henning Mankell
90: 10 Feb 09 Museum by Danny Danziger
89: 8 Feb 09 Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys by M. De la Cruz
88: 6 Feb 09 The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
January 2009
87: 30 Jan 09 Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
86: 22 Jan 09 The Twelve Kindoms: Sea of Wind by Ono Fuyumi
85: 20 Jan 09 Be With You by Ichikawa Takuji
84: 18 Jan 09 Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
83: 14 Jan 09 After the Funeral by Agatha Christie (re-read)
December 2008
82: 28 Dec 08 Uncle Fred in the Springtime by P.G. Wodehouse
81: 25 Dec 08 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
80: 22 Dec 08 Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie
79: 17 Dec 08 Scandals, Vandals and DaVincis by Harvey Rachlin
78: 8 Dec 08 The Luxe by Anna Godberson
77: 4 Dec 08 Island of Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon
76: 2 Dec 08 The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
75: 1 Dec 08 Hotel Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones
November 2008
74: 28 Nov 08 The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
73: 27 Nov 08 Adrian Mole and the WMD by Sue Townsend
72: 24 Nov 08 The Billionaire’s Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace
71: 19 Nov 08 Letters for Emily by Camron Wright
70: 19 Nov 08 Hello, My Name is Mommy by Sheri Lynch
69: 17 Nov 08 The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie
68: 12 Nov 08 The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
67: 9 Nov 08 Death by Chocolate by Toby Moore
October 2008
66: 30 Oct 08 They Do It With Mirrors by Agatha Christie
65: 28 Oct 08 Lala Pipo by Okuda Hideo
64: 28 Oct 08 World Without End by Ken Follett
63: 20 Oct 08 Aesop’s Fables by Aesop
62: 19 Oct 08 First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
61: 11 Oct 08 Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie
60: 10 Oct 08 Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
59: 8 Oct 08 Black Coffee by Agatha Christie
58: 7 Oct 08 The Genius Factory by David Plotz
57: 6 Oct 08 The Human Fly by T.C. Boyle
56: 5 Oct 08 Extra Confessions of a Working Girl by Miss S
55: 2 Oct 08 How to Read Novels like a Professor by T.C. Foster
September 2008
54: 29 Sept 08 Now You’re One of US by Nonami Asa
53: 29 Sept 08 N or M by Agatha Christie
52: 25 Sept 08 Marrying Anita by Anita Jain
51: 19 Sept 08 The Crimson Labyrinth by Kishi Yuusuke
50: 18 Sept 08 The Game by Neil Strauss
49: 12 Sept 08 Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Freidman
48: 9 Sept 08 Something Rotten by Japer Fforde
47: 5 Sept 08 A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie
46: 2 Sept 08 Mr. Monk in Outer Space by Lee Goldberg
45: 2 Sept 08 How to Read Literature like a Professor by T.C. Foster
44: 1 Sept 08 The Inugami Clan by Yokomizu Seishi
August 2008
43: 26 Aug 08 Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
42: 25 Aug 08 World War Z by Max Brooks
41: 25 Aug 08 The Freedom Writers’ Diary by Erin Gruwell and the FW
40: 24 Aug 08 Leaving the Saints by Martha Beck
39: 24 Aug 08 The Clocks by Agatha Christie
38: 11 Aug 08 Emily Post on Etiquette by Elizabeth L. Post
37: 9 Aug 08 The Devil’s Whisper by Miyabe Miyuki
36: 5 Aug 08 A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
35: 4 Aug 08 The Nature of Monsters by Clare Clark
July 2008
34: 29 July 08 Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann
33: 26 July 08 Complete Short Fiction by Oscar Wilde
32: 23 July 08 Yakuza Moon by Tendou Shouko
31: 22 July 08 Revenge of the Wedding Planner by Sharon Owens
30: 19 July 08 Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? by Agatha Christie
29: 18 July 08 Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway by Dave Barry (RR)
28: 17 July 08 Right Ho Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (RR)
27: 16 July 08 The Secret Power of Beauty by John Armstrong
26: 15 July 08 Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
25: 5 July 08 Nemesis by Agatha Christie
24: 2 July 08 Being Logical by D.Q. McInerny
23: 1 July 08 Auto-fiction by Kanehara Hitomi
22: 1 July 08 The Road by Cormac McCarthy
June 2008
21: 30 June 08 365: Great Stories from His by W.B. Marsh and B. Carrick
20: 11 June 08 Why Sex Is Fun by Jared Diamond
19: 10 June 08 Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea
18: 9 June 08 Desert Children by Waris Dirie
17: 9 June 08 Breadfruit by Celestine Vaite
16: 4 June 08 Hippo Eats Dwarf by Alex Boese
15: 3 June 08 Atomic Sushi by Simon May
May 2008
14: 27 May 08 The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis (RR)
13: 27 May 08 Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (RR)
12: 26 May 08 The Hound of Death by Agatha Christie (RR)
11: 26 May 08 By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie
10: 24 May 08 Four Queens by Nancy Goldstone
9: 19 May 08 Culture Shock: Japan by P.Sean Bramble
8: 13 May 08 Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie
7: 9 May 08 Do You Think What You Think You Think? By J. Baggini
6: 7 May 08 The Listerdale Mystery by Agatha Christie (RR)
5: 6 May 08 The Art of Punctuation by Noah Lukeman
4: 5 May 08 The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
3: 4 May 08 Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie
2: 3 May 08 The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
1: 1 May 08 The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Passenger to Boredom

Rating: ☆

Title: Passenger to Frankfurt

Author: Agatha Christie

Genre: Fiction / Thriller

Read: 22 Dec 2008

Comments: This novel is probably the worst Christie I've ever read, and I've read more than 60 of her novels, so that's saying something. It was written in her 80s and advertised as "an extravaganza", but it fails miserably. The first few chapters are pure Christie; a beautiful lady spy and a handsome diplomat have a chance encounter at an airport leading to mystery and intrigue, but it goes precipitously downhill from there.

The main theme of the novel is a ridiculous worldwide neo-nazi youth movement, loosely based on the student movements of the 60s, but it seems far-fetched and ludicrous showing more than anything Christie's lack of knowledge or empathy for the real youth of the period. The last chapter seems to be an attempt to return to her classic style with the unmasking of the master criminal, but the character was so minor, I'd forgotten who they were after slogging through the intervening chapters.

I wouldn't recommend this to anyone but die-hard Christie fans like myself who are dead-set on reading everything she's ever written.

  • Passenger to Frankfurt
  • Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    World War Z is a Must-read!

    Rating: ☆☆☆☆ +1/2

    Title: World War Z

    Author: Max Brooks

    Genre: Fic / SF

    Read: 25th Aug 2008

    Comments: I just finished Max Brooks' World War Z: an Oral History of the Zombie Wars yesterday, and boy did it knock my socks off! Luckily I had the day off, because I literally could not put it down and went through the whole thing in one clip. It was absolutley gripping from start to finish and I'm surprised I didn't have zombie nightmares.

    It begins with the first outbreaks of the plague in rural China, to the heroic but doomed war efforts in Russia and India, the inhuman Redekker plan in South Africa, the floating raft-cities in the Pacific, the heroic efforts of French zombie fighters in the Paris catacombs, to the final cleanup across the American continent. It's brilliantly imagined and so detailed at times you wonder if there wasn't really a 'Zombie War'.

    One complaint I read in another review was the relative sameness of the narrative voice despite the disparate backgrounds of the 50 or so narrators, which is admittedly the main flaw of the novel, but when Brooks give us such a rip-roaring yarn in all other respects it's easy to forgive.

    So to all the SF and post-apocalyptic fantasy fans out there, run to the nearest bookshop and pick this one up!

  • World War Z
    see also
  • The Zombie Survival Guide
  • Friday, May 02, 2008

    And Yet Again...

    Well, it's May again: the only time I ever seem to write any posts for this red-headed step-child of a blog of mine. I was a little disappointed last May that I didn't reach my goal of 100 books; but this year I'm back with a vengence! 121 books, Booyah!

    So without further ado, here is the list for Year Three of Bibliomania, (and please, please, please click some of the links so that I won't feel that I've completely wasted the 3 or 4 hours it took to put this together):
  • The List

  • Stats, Stats, Who wants stats?

    Some stats:
    Total number of books: 121
    Most books in month: January 2008- 18
    Least books in month: May 2007- 3
    Average per month: 10

    Total number of authors: 90
    Male authors:57
    Female authors:33
    Most books by same author: Agatha Christie x27
    Most common author's names: Ben, Daniel, Emma, Jason, Michael, Steven 2 each

    By genre:
    Mystery: 32
    Memoir/Biography: 27
    Classics: 10

    I read an absolute ton of Agatha Christie again this year, sometimes 4 or 5 a month. I read a few graphic novels, (including the wonderful 'Persepolis'), several kids books, a bunch of memoirs, lots of modern classics, and the usual trashy paperbacks. (I can't believe I read 'Legally Blonde' , but I did)


    My favorite book this year was definitely 'Bad Monkeys'. It's one of the most original books I've ever read, and the narrator just keeps you second-guessing, and third-guessing and fourth-guessing until you really have no idea what is true and what is just in her crazed imagination. It's fast-paced and creepy and funny all at the same time. A must read!

    My pick for worst book of the year is 'The Lost Van Gogh'. This could have been a great book; it has an excellent premise (long lost Van Gogh painting turns up, all sorts of nasties come out of the woodwork trying to do each over for it), an uber-nasty villian (a crazed knife-wielding Nazi), and enough thrills, chills and chases for 2 or 3 action movies, but the writing SUCKS! You can tell it was co-authored (by a husband and wife team BTW), because the style is very uneven and one of the authors (I'm guessing the husband) has a real yen for bad puns and wordplay. Don't get me wrong, I love puns and wordplay, proabably a lot more than the average person, but a mystery/ action novel is not the place for them. When you can sense that the author is trying to be clever, it really breaks the flow and detracts from the story. Two thumbs down.


    Even weirder than 'Bad Monkeys' is 'The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil'. I think you can pick up a little bit of the weirdness just from the title, but anyway, if you can find this; buy it and read it! You won't be disappointed. Also it's very short, so if you're looking for a little breather between serious books, it's perfect.

    See you next May!!!

    Wednesday, May 30, 2007

    The Kabul Beauty School

    I've decided to chuck my old plan of reviewing things in order, and just reveiew whatever I've read recently, because to tell the truth I don't really remember all the books from year one all that well, unless they were spectacularly good or spectacularly bad. So, I'm just going to do things as I've read them, and yesterday morning from about 6:30 to 10:00 am I read 'The Kabul Beauty School'

    Rating: ☆☆☆

    Title: The Kabul Beauty School

    Author: Deborah Rodriguez

    Genre: NF / Middle East / Memoir

    Read: 29th May 2007

    Comments: I had read about this school a few years back in some women's magazine or other, and I remembered being very skeptical; thinking "Why start a beauty school in such a war-torn country?, Why not do something more worthwhile?"

    After reading this though, I realized how wrong I was. Since being a beautician is one of the few jobs that only a woman can do, (you obviously can't have a man looking at all those unveiled women and actually touching their hair...) it's a good way for women to make money and raise their status in their family so they won't get beaten as often, or married off as early.

    The author sometimes came off as a rather naive, culturally-insensitive American, but her heart was always in the right place. Although she always seemed to be right on the brink of some crisis or another she always made it out somehow. This book was very inspiring, but also depressing at the same time. You get to see how far Afghan women have come, but also how far they still have to go, which is a long, long way.

    Quote: "I know how the lives of the women who have come to the school have changed. Whereas they were once dependant on men for money, they are now earning and sharing their wages, whereas once they were househould slaves, now they are respected decision makers. Not all of them, not all the time. But enough to give them and so many other women hope."

  • The Kabul Beauty School
  • Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Another Year's Gone By Already...

    I can't believe how quickly time flies by. This May begins year three of Bibliomania, my oft-neglected book blog, read only by me, and maybe once in a while my mom or dad...

    I can't promise to actually update this blog regularly, but I'll try to write at least a little more often than I have been. (Last post was in Oct 2006, ouch!)

    Anyway please feel free to check out my list for Year Two of Bibliomania
  • here
  • or click on 'Year Two' on the right...

    I'm a little disappointed in myself for not reaching my goal of 100 books this year, but I guess I'll just have to read 102 next year. And just because I'm a super-ultra-uber-dork here are some stats.

    Some stats:
    Total number of books: 98
    Total number of authors: 70
    Male authors:52
    Female authors:18
    Most books by same author: Agatha Christie x16
    Most common author's names: 5 Johns, 3 Kens, 3 Stevens, 3 James
    Most common genre: Mystery x 26

    Apparently I read a crap-load of Agatha Christie this year, as well as Neil Gaiman (5) and P.G. Wodehouse (4). I read a bunch of trash at the beginning of the year (4 Blondes, The Debutante Divorcee, How to Cook a Tart), and some of the big hyped books (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Freakonomics, The God Delusion, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, The Historian) but I also got around to a bunch of classics I'd been meaning to read (Madame Bovary, Monkey, The Thin Man, The Old Man and the Sea, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Dune, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest , A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court)

    My favorite book this year was probably 'Confessing a Murder'. Although the ending was fairly obvious, I'm a real sucker for historical fiction and the detailed naturalistic descriptions of the mysterious island's flora and fauna were absolutely charming. Julie, you'd probably like this one!

    Probably the worst book I read all year was Bangkok Tattoo, which apart from being written by a kind of slimy-feeling white dude trying way too hard to be Thai, also had one of the most unoriginal endings ever, bascially ripped off from a short story of Roald Dahl's. Do yourself a favor and don't read this one.