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 47: Confessions from a Coffee Shop – T. B. Markinson

Markinson, T. B. - Confessions from a Coffee ShopAnd she’s back! Now don’t get me wrong, Markinson (TBM)’s last novel, Marionette, wasn’t bad and was excellently written, it just wasn’t for me. However, Confessions from a Coffee Shop harkens back to A Woman Lost in humor and fun! I flew through this and couldn’t help but smile the entire time I read this novel. I received a copy from the author and received no compensation for my response. If this review sounds at ALL interesting you should request a preview copy from her here.

I said above that TBM is back and the reason I say that is because she’s return to what she knows and what I can assume is a comfort zone for her. I don’t fault her one bit for stretching her writing muscles in her second novel, but I’m so glad she returned to her strengths!

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Book 42: Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman’s Daughter #2) – Megan Shepherd

Shepherd, Megan - Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter #2)It is very rare that a second novel, let alone a middle novel in a trilogy, can surpass the first. In this case, not only has Shepherd done it, she’s surpassed an incredibly well written debut novel with an even more creative, intense and harrowing follow-up. It is NOT a place holder as many middle books are in trilogies and I was incredibly impressed.

Whereas H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau inspired The Madman’s Daughter, took her inspiration for this novel from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I CANNOT wait for the third novel, thankfully it give me time to read the book it’s based on, but I won’t tell you in case you want to read it as it’s revealed in the final pages of this novel.

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Book 38: The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #4) – Dan Simmons

Simmons, Dan - The Rise of EndymionI’m exhausted. This series has spanned 2.200+ pages and more than 10 centuries! It covers lifetimes of characters, many lived over and over and a few lived once throughout the entire story! (20 years shy of 1000 years old, one character!) The story was convoluted and continuously changed which ultimately worked for and against the series.

As the concluding novel in this epic story, it felt a little hollow. There were definitely moments of amazement and creativity and Simmons intelligence once again comes across unquestionably, but for some reason it just felt a little hollow and most definitely rushed at the end. Even though I hadn’t fully thought through the end of the novel when I got there I was not surprised at the ending. It did feel a little deus ex machina, but with a “machine” like the Shrike, how could it be any other way?

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Book 37: Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #3) – Dan Simmons

Simmons, Dan - EndymionIf I’m completely honest, I expected this book to fail miserably. After the feeling of utter astonishment at the brilliance of the first two novels in the Hyperion Cantos, how could the follow-up novels remotely compare?

Thankfully, this first one was excellent. Simmons solved part of the problem by fast forwarding almost 300 years into the even further future and starting from there. As with the first two novels, Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, this novel is told from someone who is simultaneously outside (looking back) and inside of the story, essentially revolving around them. The novel’s opening definitely put me on guard and I was very worried that I wouldn’t see any of the characters from the previous novels, but we already knew the technology existed to extend life well beyond a normal lifespan and thankfully some came back!

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Book 36: The Grifters – Jim Thompson

Thompson, Jim - The GriftersI hope you never get tired of hearing it, but books like this are why I’m so glad Caroline and I took the chance and joined the random book group at our local library. I know I would never have picked up this book (and most of the books we read). They’re so different and I’ve enjoyed almost all that we’ve read! Sometimes, I’m not so sure about the book or I’m hesitant about the movie, but this book was great and I can’t wait to see how they adapt it to the film!

Like usual going into this month’s book I had no set expectations and knew very little about it. I vaguely knew it was about con artists, but that was about it. When I picked up my copy from the library I was tickled to see the pulp-fiction cover, who wouldn’t be? But that cover definitely made me seriously look forward to reading it, not to mention it was under 200 pages, and I blazed through the book.

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Book 35: The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #2) – Dan Simmons

Simmons, Dan - The Fall of HyperionWhat a follow-up! After reading Hyperion, the first in the Hyperion Cantos, I immediately moved into the second! So glad Alex gave us both of them or I wouldn’t have known what to do, or I would’ve gone out and bought it. Although the style changed from the first novel, this one was just as strong and incredibly intelligent. There are definitely spoilers after the next paragraph so you’ve been warned.

The start of this book was a bit more confusing than the first, again it starts in the middle of the story, but with different characters. Rather than immediately going back to our seven pilgrims and their stories, Simmons introduces us to Joseph Severn, another cybrid (originally a John Keats), and brings in the character Meina Gladstone, CEO of the hegemony and mentioned many times in the previous book. There are of course other characters and they all add to the amazing story, but the core group remain the same.

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