Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Book of Mormon

As a book blogger, who is also a Latter-day Saint (Mormon), there is one book that is more important to me than all the rest.
If you would like to request a free copy, click here. To read it online or download the complete audio file, click here.

Early Birds Blog Tour - Life After Genius

Life After Genius Life After Genius by M. Ann Jacoby
Published by: Grand Central Publishing
Release date: October 29, 2008 (TODAY!)

rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is very different from other things I've read lately. Part academic thriller and part coming-of-age story, this novel explores the world of an 18-year old math genius at the cusp of graduating from college when he shows up at home 6 days before graduation and he won't say why.

Mead Fegley has grown up in a small midwestern town, the son of a furniture store owner/undertaker. His whole life he has been picked on, singled out, and alone. His thinks his luck will change when he enrolls at the university at age 15, but through the course of the novel he realizes he still has some growing up to do.

I thought the author did a nice job with character development. The bad guys were really evil, the oppressive mother really exasperating, and Mead was as complicated as I imagine an adolescent trying to scale a very adult world would be. I was at times frustrated with Mead because I felt he brought a lot of misery on himself. But at the same time, I could totally understand how he got himself into the mess he was in.

The book switches between the past and the present, giving the reader a revelation of tidbits and details. The ending did leave me feeling vaguely unsatisfied and the sexual themes and language were too coarse for my taste.

I do have one copy to give away, so if you are interested leave me a comment and I'll pick a winner on Monday, November 3rd. Thank you to Miriam at Hachette Books!

To view other reviews on the tour, check these out!

Monday, October 27, 2008

American Wife

American Wife: A Novel American Wife: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld

rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really respect Laura Bush, so I was excited to read this novel. American Wife is loosely based on the life of our current First Lady, but her name is Alice Lindgren and she's from Wisconsin.

The novel is divided into 4 parts based on 4 addresses Alice has had, beginning with where she grew up and ending with 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In the first part, Alice is in high school when a very traumatic event happens (which also happened to Laura for real) that shapes her whole life. In Part II, Alice is in her late-20s and she meets Charlie Blackwell at a BBQ. In Part III, Charlie buys the Milwaukee Brewers. And you can deduce what happens in Part IV.

I really liked how Sittenfeld provides an in depth look at what it might be like to be famous, particularly when fame was not what Alice/Laura sought in life. She's portrayed as a normal person, with normal hopes, dreams, aspirations, failings, and quirks. I also appreciated how the author tackled Part IV without portraying any kind of political agenda. Rather, you get a glimpse of how difficult and complicated life is in a position of power, and how moral and ethical quagmires are easy to get into and difficult to get out of.

Even though the book is 555 pages, I think I would have liked less details during some parts and more during others. I wished there was more coverage on Alice's college years and her time as the Governor's wife and less on Charlie/George's "wild years."

The sex and language was definitely over-the-top for me, and I found myself skipping pages here and there. But overall, it was a satisfying read. A few years ago my mom gave me George and Laura by Christopher Andersen to read and it's likely that I'll pick that up to get a little more of the real story.

Also reviewed by:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ender's Game

Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, Book 1) Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my in person book club's book this month, and I'm so glad that I finally made time to read this book. It is one of my husband's favorites and I knew it was one of those books that I "should read." I really didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did though.

Ender is a third child in a time when couples are only allowed two children. But Ender's family is different--all of the children are geniuses. Seventy years before, the world won a war against the buggers who threaten to destroy the human race. And now the world feels threatened again. So, six-year old Ender is sent to Battle School in preparation for the fight.

While this Hugo and Nebula award winning book is not really my favorite genre to read, a good story is a good story no matter what. I agree wholeheartedly with the review:
This futuristic tale involves aliens, political discourse on the Internet, sophisticated computer games, and an orbiting battle station. Yet the reason it rings true for so many is that it is first and foremost a tale of humanity; a tale of a boy struggling to grow up into someone he can respect while living in an environment stripped of choices. Ender's Game is a must-read book for science fiction lovers, and a key conversion read for their friends who "don't read science fiction."
Also reviewed by:
Let me know if I missed yours!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ramona and Her Mother

Ramona and Her Mother (Ramona Quimby (Paperback)) Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary

rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Before there was Junie B., there was Ramona.

My daughter and I listened to this in the car on a recent road trip. It was read by Stockard Channing, who I thought did a fairly good job. Each of her characters had an identifiable "voice", but Ramona's always sounded like she had a cold.

It was interesting to me that as we were listening, I had a vague feeling of having read this before, long ago...which of course is true. Some of the material is a little dated for today's audience of little girls.

R-O-L-A-I-D-S spells "relief"


"using the ditto machine"

were among a few items I found amusingly quaint.

Ramona wants to be her mother's girl. But, she has a tendency to do crazy things like squeeze out an entire tube of toothpaste, give Kleenex for a present, and wear her PJs to school underneath her clothes. Of course at the end of it all, she realizes her mother's love is true no matter what.

Also reviewed by:
Let me know if you did too!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Deep in the Heart of Trouble

Deep in the Heart of Trouble Deep in the Heart of Trouble by Deeanne Gist

rating: 4 of 5 stars

My second foray into the world of Christian historical fiction romance was as enjoyable as the first. I read this book in a day and was thoroughly entertained.

Set in Texas during the oil boom, when bicycles are new and exciting and women who wear bloomers are still considered slightly scandalous, this book follows Essie Sprecklemeyer, the daughter of an wealthy oil baron who believes she is destined to become an old maid. In comes Tony Morgan, who has been disinherited after his competing oil baron father dies, to fall madly in love with her.

I didn't realize until I finished this book that is was actually a sequel. And, I didn't really care. Overall, the book was somewhat predictable, but very fun.


Also reviewed by:
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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

We Have a Winner!

I used a custom random number generator to pick the winner of the Elizabeth McCracken giveaway.

Congrats to couplabz!

Thanks again to Miriam at Hachette for sponsoring this book tour and giveaway!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Chasing Diana

Chasing Diana Chasing Diana by Jack & Robin Firestone

Release date: June 27, 2008
Published by: BookSurge Publishing

I received this book very generously from the authors with a very appropriate inscription:

To Patricia: History is stranger than fiction.

I wanted to read this book because I do have a love for all things Diana. The story is based on the real-life accounts of the authors, who were the only American witnesses to the car crash that took Diana's life. They wrote this historic fiction account as a "screenplay-novel" which I thought worked very well for the subject.

The story revolves around the Goodrich family vacation in Paris which goes awry from the moment they arrive. They are being followed by a family of hit men hired to kill Dodi because of some pictures they inadvertently took. I found their fictionalized characters, James & Rhonda Goodrich, to be lacking in like-ability and the language and substance abuse was also too intense for my taste. However, I came away from the book more intrigued than ever about their non-fiction account!

If you want a different spin on the Diana and Dodi story, you should look into this. You can find out more from their website.

Also reviewed by:

Booking Mama Giveaway

Go and check out Booking Mama's giveaway for The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennet. I had it on my list to read for The Novella Challenge, but ended up reading other books instead. I still really, REALLY want to read this one though.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Water Street

Water Street Water Street by Patricia Reilly Giff

rating: 4 of 5 stars

5 reasons to love this book:

1. The cover.
2. The main character is a 13-year old named Bird. (short for Bridget)
3. It is set in 19th Century Brooklyn during the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.
4. It includes the struggles of two Irish immigrant families.
5. It's about family, and healing, and hope.

I can't wait until my daughter gets old enough to read it. I think I'll read it with her then too.

Also reviewed by: Corinne @ The Book Nest