Monday, July 30, 2007

Summer Reads - Complete List

*Sigh* Summer comes to an official end this Wednesday when I report back to school. It will be good to be working again, but I will sorely miss the days when I could sit around all day stuffing bonbons into my face and stories into my brain. My summer total is 21 books. That averages about one book every three days. Not bad if I don't say so myself! My New Year's Resolution was to plough my way through at least 100 new books this year.

Non-Fiction: 3

Title: Hoyle's Rules of Games
Author: Albert Morehead & Geoffrey Mott-Smith
Rating: 3 out of 5

This book gives a brief history of classic games in addition to user-friendly instructions on how to play these various card and board games. Of course, we islanders will not find rules for Tres-Siete, Tongits, or Hawaiian Speed. However, this book surely did clear up a long-standing debate among my family about the rules of 5000 Rummy. It also introduced me to the game of Pinochle, which sounds like a snooty grandma game but is in fact quite similar to Spades.

Title: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
Author: John Gray, PhD
Rating: 3 out of 5

I swear that I picked this up on a whim! It receives a rating of 3 because the analysis of male/female behavior is really on point. It contains some solid advice on how to communicate with the opposite sex, complete with a handy-dandy "Martian/Venusian Dictionary." And that is not a personal joke. The drawbacks were the frequent mental gags I experienced every time Dr. Gray blathered on with endless euphemisms and Martian/Venusian bedtime stories. "One day on the planet of Mars, Martians used a telescope and spotted the lovely Venusians. So they built a spaceship and traveled to Venus..." Yuck yuck yuck. I need it straight up Doc. Ditto about the part where Martians retreat to their caves and Venusians fall into their wells. Simply put, the Martian's being an a** and Venusian's being a b****.

Title: The Tomorrow Trap - Unlocking the Secrets of Procrastination-Protection Syndrome
Author: Karen Peterson, PhD
Rating: I think it might be a 4

I am surely one of the biggest procrastinators alive. Certainly, I am number 1 among every one I know. Dr. Peterson posits that procrastination occurs because you are unconciously protecting yourself from something. That's a first for me, but I will not discount it. As far as unlocking what I am protecting myself from, well....I actually haven't gotten past chapter 2 out of 9. There's that darn procrastination thing popping up again. Ironic isn't it? I give this book a 4 for its potential therapeutic value.

Fiction: 8 books

Title: The Time Traveler's Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger

Title: My Sister's Keeper
Author: Jodi Picoult

Highly recommended titles!! See my blog best of the summer blog below!

Title: The Kommandant's Girl
Author: Pam Jenoff
Rating: 5 out of 5

This is the last book I have read this summer. A newly married Jewish girl becomes separated from her family and her husband,a resistance fighter. She hides with her husband's aunt who introduces her to the Kommandant of Krakow, Poland. She goes to work for him as his personal assistant and becomes personally involved with him even as she spies on him for the resistance. Eventually, her double-life becomes exposed in a stunning conclusion.

Title: The Average American Male
Author: Chad Kultgen
Rating: 5 out 5

This book truly offended me as only a woman can be by male behavior. So why a rating of 5? Because it is so f*ing ridiculous and, despite myself, funny! This is a story wherein you enter the head of an average guy. Not a page goes by wherein the unnamed character is not obsessing about sex, sexual positions, female anatomy, former girlfriends, future girlfriends, and pornography. It's a completely disgusting, yet enthralling read. The author's Acknowledgements section says alot. "Mom, thanks for always encouraging me to write...I'm sorry the end result is something you will not want to read...I hope this book doesn't lose you any friends or anything." I burned through this in 2 hours.

Title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Author: Lisa See
Rating: 3 out of 5

An average book. Good presentation of culture and history. An interesting perspective into women's secret culture. However, the catalyst for the major plot line - a misunderstanding occuring between the two main characters - is quite weak.

Title: Nineteen Minutes
Author: Jodi Picoult
Rating 3 out of 5

Solid book. Follows the Picoult formula of surprise endings and courtroom plot twists. The story centers around a high school shooting and the repercussions for the community.

Title: Vanishing Acts
Author: Jodi Picoult
Rating: 4 out of 5

Solid story. Follows the Picoult formula of surprise endings and courtroom plot twists. The story focuses upon a father-daughter relationship wherein the adult daughter suddenly finds that she is the victim of a parental kidnapping case. Picoult really captures the miseries and ambiguities the father and daughter face as they try to come to terms with what has happened.

Title: The Dogs of Babel
Author: Carolyn Parkhurst
Rating: 4 out of 5

The story starts out very strong. A man is deeply in love with his wife when she suddenly commits suicide. The only witness is the couple's dog. He attempts to find out exactly what happened that day by teaching his dog to "speak." The ending is a little dry and does not carry the same emotional intensity as the rest of the book; however, this should not deter you from reading this novel. The writing is beautiful, the love story is beautiful, the characters are beautiful, there is simply no other way to describe them.

Science Fiction: 1 book

Title: The Road
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Rating: 5 out of 5

One of the best horror stories I have ever read! See my full recommendation below under my best reads of the summer.

Fantasy: 9 books

Title: The Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera book 1) and Academ's Fury (Codex Alera book 2)
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 5 out of 5

Although better known for his Dresden Files, Jim Butcher really delivers a punch in his first foray into the world of fantasy. The magic in this series is not original (people have mastered the elements of water, fire, earth, air, metal) but Butcher handles infuses his story with a unique twist to this magic. The story follows a familiar plot in the fantasy genre - an ordinary, reluctant hero finds that it is his mission to save the world from destruction - yet, Butcher is a masterful storyteller. The central character, Tavi, is a very engaging, humorous, charming hero. This series is definitely one to watch.

Title: Outlander (book1), Voyager (book3)
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Rating: 5 out of 5

I loved loved loved these books, except for book 2 which I skipped entirely. Claire is a newly married wartime nurse visiting Scotland on her honeymoon. She and her historian husband Frank encounter a Beltane ritual at a circle of standing stones which unlocks a gateway to the past. Claire unwittingly enters the stone circle and is transported 200 years back in time just prior to the Scottish uprising of Bonny Prince Charlie (Charles Stuart). There she meets and falls in love with the highlander Jamie Fraser. Over the course of 6 books, Claire and Jamie must face the harsh realities of not only their own future but also of the changes they may be making to the present. This book may seem as if it belongs in the historical romance genre, but it is much much more than a fluffy romance novel. This is a very deep and moving story. In fact, the reader is left to wonder whether Claire and Jamie will survive or ever reunite (Oops! Did I just give away a major plot point?)

Title: Kushiel's Dart (book 1)
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Rating: 4 out of 5

Lots of getting freaky in this one. Lots and lots of getting down and dirty. And none of it is gentle. Phedre no Delaunay is an anguissette - a person damned/blessed by the god Kushiel to experience pleasure and pain as one. Raised by a wealthy benefactor to be both courtesan and spy, Phedre must uncover the political plots that seek to destroy her beloved homeland. Along the way, she begins to understand the complexities of her "gift" and come to terms with her nature. This book is the first of a separate trilogy within a 6 book series.

Title: Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness (The Black Jewels Trilogy)
Author: Anne Bishop

Rating: 4 out of 5

This series offers a twist on the concept of demons, angels, and Hell. In a matriarchal society, Jaenelle is a young girl who destined to rule the realms of both Hell and Earth. Powerful lords recognize this and seek to control her, for he who controls the Queen controls the Darkness. What ensues is a terrible political and psychological game that plays upon Jaenelle's fears and desires with disastrous consequences for everyone involved. I recommmend this book with reservations only because the content is not for everyone. For example, rape is a frequent political tool of subjugation because virgin witches may be forever robbed of their power if so violated. However, if you are not squemish, definitely pick this one up because Jaenelle's companion Daemon is such an enigmatic, attractive character! He almost steals the story away from Jaenelle!

1 comment:

Shazam said...

We love your blog! We love reading too. I'm reading The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. I recommend it! Hope it's ok if we link up to you. Keep on kicking the ball around and teaching.