Book 49: L’America – Martha McPhee

McPhee, Martha - L'AmericaHonestly, I’m sad I didn’t like this as much as I thought I would. Seriously, I’ve given it the lowest rating of the year so far. I bought it in one of my bulk buys at the 2011 Boston Book festival and haven’t thought of it since. It came up on my list when I used random.org to select my next book.

Even though I finished it, I just could not invest in this book, and that’s never a good sign. It started off slow, and thankfully did pick up a good bit, but still finished slow. Seriously go read the paragraph long sentence that was the final sentence of the novel. Not fun.

I think where I struggled to enjoy the book and where the author struggled to write the book was in converting an excellent idea into a manageable and digestible amount. Thankfully, the book wasn’t longer, but it really struggled through the first half. Beth felt like a whiny idiot (she was a teenager) and Cesare just felt frigid and unapproachable. This definitely changed toward the end, but it didn’t change fast enough or thoroughly enough to make me want to bump up my rating.

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Book 32: Poster Boy (Theta Alpha Gamma #5) – Anne Tenino

Tenino, Anne - Poster Boy (Theta Alpha Gamma #5)I think this is by far my favorite of the Theta Alpha Gamma series by Anne Tenino and it’s definitely one of the best written of the series. I of course requested a copy from the publisher, Riptide Publishing as soon as I found out there was a new release in the series. It didn’t hurt that the cover had the cutest of all the guys in the series so far. Prepare yourself, a Goodreads observation/rant is about to follow, if you want to just read about the book and not my thoughts on female M/M romance writers and readers skip the next two paragraphs.

When I put in my star rating on Goodreads, I noticed that the overwhelming majority of the first page were female readers. I decided to look at the first 100, but there were only 60 written reviews, which I ignored for their general idiocy, and of those 52 of them were female. This really isn’t that shocking, as I’ve mentioned it before and I remember reading about it while studying for my Gender Studies degree, but I’m starting to find it really interesting which ones I like and which ones the female readers like. It’s almost always opposite and I’m not sure what that says about me, the females or about the writer.

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Book 21: Who Murdered Chaucer? – Jones, Yeager, Dolan, Fletcher & Dor

Jones, Terry - Who Murdered ChaucerI know I say this often, but what a fascinating read, but what’s most exciting is that this is a work of nonfiction. I don’t generally read a lot of nonfiction, but after reading about this on a site ages ago (at least a year ago) and having just finished A Burnable Book, I knew this was a great time to read it. Needless to say I absolutely plan on finding a full biography of Chaucer.

Who Murdered Chaucer? focuses on the last 20(ish) years of Chaucer’s life, but more so on the political climate, which is vital to interpreting Chaucer’s writings and why so few survived, I found. And come on, the man lived 150 years before and is considered the father of English poetry, why does Shakespeare get all the credit? I mean sure Shakespeare wrote A LOT, but just this next paragraph should make you want to learn more about Geoffrey Chaucer.

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Book 19: A Burnable Book – Bruce Holsinger

Holsinger, Bruce - A Burnable BookWhoa, talk about a fascinating novel. It opens with a murder and builds from there! I finished the book in just over three days (with severely limited time) and it is most definitely a page turner with realistic characters and enough actual history thrown in to make you wonder how much is real and what isn’t.

I heard about this book from Books on the Nightstand and I HAD to read it. Not only did the story sound fascinating, but I mean come on it’s about Geoffrey Chaucer. He was the first person, out of my family, that I can remember who had the same name and more importantly, the same spelling, as ME!

I remember having to memorize the prologue to The Canterbury Tales in high school and enjoying the tales, but as interested in Chaucer as I was because of his name, I’ve never looked into his life or any fictional accounts of his life. I’ve had Who Murdered Chaucer? on my shelf for almost a month and kept putting it off, but now I’ve read this fictional book about Chaucer, I’m going right into a speculative history about Chaucer!

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Book 7: Inferno (Robert Langdon #4) – Dan Brown

Brown, Dan - InfernoThis is the fourth book in the Robert Langdon series and Brown’s sixth novel. As with the others, this is exactly what it sets out to be: a page turning action and adventure novel that although not a literary wonder Inferno does make you wonder about major societal and environmental issues. The entire story takes place in less than 24 hours with flashbacks to two days before.

The only other Robert Langdon novel I’ve read since starting this blog is the third installment The Lost Symbol. I’ve read all of Brown’s books and enjoy them for what they are and don’t judge them harshly like it seems most people do. I remember reading The Da Vinci Code the summer between high school and college and immediately going out to find copies of Angels and Demons, Digital Fortress and Deception Point. (Call it my hipster moment, but I read it BEFORE it took off.)

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Book 72: The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus #4) – Rick Riordan

Riordan, Rick - The House of HadesIn this, the penultimate novel of The Heroes of Olympus, Rick Riordan sets the scene for a HUGE finale in the last and final book. I’ve had my name on the wait list for this book since I finished The Mark of Athena back in February or whenever the library first let me add my name to the list and I will do the same thing with the final installment, The Blood of Olympus.

This book picks up right where The Mark of Athena left off and keeps filling up details and providing more and more tension before everything snaps between Gaea and the demigods and gods. To be fair the series could end with this book and I wouldn’t be mad as there was a pretty succinct ending to this novel versus many of the other cliff hangers I’ve read before like that at the end of the last novel. This one although much sadder, the characters and readers of the series are growing up, was much more encapsulated.

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS so if you plan on reading these books, I would not recommend reading after this point. There might not be any for this book, but there may be for earlier books in the story, but no promises – this is the fourth book in the series.

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Book 29: Loot: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World – Sharon Waxman

Waxman, Sharon - LootSorry for the long post in advance, it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book about museums and antiquities and I forgot how much I love them and how much they make me think!

This book has been on my to-be-read shelf since July of 2011 and I can’t believe I waited this long to read it! I will never forget my first Anthropology class in undergrad and the professor going off on a tangent about the looting of the museums after the fall of Saddam Hussein. It pretty much guaranteed I would be an Anthropology major. (I later switched to cultural anthropology and focused on gender in the media, but still the people were awesome!) The intrigue, the drama, the affairs and the crimes, it could be a spy novel if it were fiction and not fact! This book will count as a bonus book for my 2013 Mount TBR Reading Challenge.

What’s important to note is that this book is not academic, Waxman wrote the book for a general audience and in this she succeeds. There are very few things that would go above someone’s head who doesn’t have a degree or a heavy interest in Ancient History, Anthropology, Archaeology or Art History. She, or her editors, appear to have been very aware of this and kept to the journalistic research intent of the book.

However, this also work against her and ultimately I felt the entire purpose of writing the book got lost. Someone on Goodreads tagged the book as ‘ending goes south’ and that’s an apt description. Waxman keeps building the crescendo and it gets to a point where you just want her to tell you what happens. And then she reminds you that all of this is still happening and things are still changing rapidly totally dampens the bang that could’ve ended the book.

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