Tuesday, March 31, 2009
My husband and I spent a long weekend back in Las Vegas for a little vacation and to be in our friends' wedding. The groom was an old co-worker of Robb's back when we lived in Vegas. And I became friends with his girlfriend so we were both in the wedding. How cool is that! We somehow crammed bachelorette/bachelor parties, rehearsal dinners, the wedding, all into a few short days. I don't have any photos of the actual wedding yet, but here's some of our little slice of vacation.
Can you tell where we stayed? I was so excited when my husband told me. Here's the view from the pool:
And just a random pool shot. I didn't want to be too creepy and photo people sunbathing :)
And they made the best bloody mary's. I asked for extra olives and got SIX! Yum!
I'll post more photos when I get them. Now I'm on to catch up on some blog reading. :)
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
So here's a couple of my books that I'm just going to admit defeat and proudly walk away.
Slammerkin - Emma Donoghue
I almost finished it. I had about fifty pages left. Seriously! But every time I picked it up to read, it just left a bad taste in my mouth. And I was reading it before bed and it was honestly giving me bad dreams. And then the character...the character doesn't ever really change and I didn't really like her. So, bad Amanda, I flipped to the end...and well, in case YOU read it, I won't tell you the ending...but it wasn't worth it to me to finish. So there it is.
Oh, and in case you are interested, the book is about a prostitute in London in the 1700s. And she doesn't want to work so it's easier for her to just sell herself. Yeah. Just not a book for me. (According to Goodreads, though, some people DO like it. Just letting you know.)
The Third Angel - Alice Hoffman
Boy. I was so disappointed in this one. And to be fair, I only got about eighty pages into it. So I might try it some other time. But after reading and absolutely LOVING The River King and really liking The Ice Queen....this just didn't snag me. Actually, had I not known I would have swore it wasn't the same author.
The River King is so descriptive and detailed that after the first few pages I knew exactly where I was. The Third Angel is kind of bland. Even the story isn't too terribly great. Well...what I read of it. And I wasn't really feeling the characters. I know I know...that might change once I've read more, but right now I'm going to return it to the library.
Sigh. And I just love the cover. :(
Are there books that you've just had to close and quit? Or wish you had? Have you read either one of these and think I should give them a second chance?
Monday, March 23, 2009
Keep in mind that this book was written in 1960...so things were a bit different back then.
The story revolves around Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, a twenty-six-year-old. He was a big basketball star back in high school but now he is married, sells vegetable peelers, and has a second child on the way. And he's unhappy. But it doesn't come right out and tell you he's unhappy.
He's on his way home from work when he sees a bunch of kids playing basketball. He joins in and pretty much womps them. And he goes home and his wife is drinking and smoking (see...the differences between then and now?). And he's annoyed at her and that she's drinking. Oh, he's not annoyed because drinking is bad for the baby...no...it's because he's quit and she hasn't. So when he has to go pick up the car and she askes him to pick up a packet of cigarrets on his way home...he just leaves and doesn't come back.
At first he tries driving to Florida. But somehow that doesn't work. He ends up in a nearby town and hooks up with another lady and starts living with her. And he's really conceited. And it's all just a muddled mess.
And that's all I'm going to tell you. There is a part toward the end that is just shocking. Watch out because you might tear up on the subway, or miss your stop, or slack off responsibilities because you have to read it to the end then.
What we all agreed on is that the story just sucked us in. And Rabbit wasn't a very like-able character. But then again he wasn't supposed to be. We still all agreed that even we didn't know why we still cared about what was going to happen when really NONE of the characters were really like-able. But maybe that's the point. We get flawed characters because really none of us are perfect. And who doesn't know of a person like Rabbit.
I'm definitely going to read the other books in the series.
Have you read any of his Rabbit stories? What did you think?
Ok, as I was looking for other covers, I ran across this one. Wow! Slightly scandelous! And then I realized there was a movie made back in 1970. Hmm...has anyone seen it? What did you think?
Also Reviewed by:
Friday, March 20, 2009
About the Lovely Award:“These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly written text into the body of their award.”
To pass on the award, I'd like to mention fellow bloggers who are following my blog.
1. Desert Rose Booklogue
2. Alabama Book Worm
3. Passages to the Past
4. The Things We Read
5. Madeleine's Book and Photo Blog
6. Leafing Through Life
7. Brainella the Librarian
Thank you! I love reading your blogs :)
Ok. Here's the synopsis. I'm just going to give you the run down.
Detective Cassie Maddox is called in on a murder case. A young girl was found dead from a stab wound in a run down cottage in the middle of nowhere. The weird thing about it, the victim looks exactly like Cassie. AND her ID says her name is Lexie Madison...a name Cassie made up for herself during one of her undercover stings. Hmmm...right?
There's really no clues in the case. Lexie was apparently a grad student who lived with four other students in a run down mansion near where her body was found. Her roommates become the obvious suspects. So...Cassie goes undercover as Lexie. They tell the roommates that she was near death and after a while she goes back to live with them.
So. Who's Lexie really? Who killed her? Who/what was she running away from?
I love these novels because it really draws you in psychologically. You get in Cassie's head as she's preparing to be Lexie. And she's trying to profile the victim who was not who she said she was. Loved it.
And I just love Cassie's character.
Just go read it.
And for fun, I LOVE the covers of In the Wood and The Likeness. But here's other versions of The Likeness I just do not like at all.
This one is kinda boring:
And this one is just a bit too trippy:
And this audio one....SO creepy, and not in a good way. Her hair makes her look like an old lady, not a spry twenty-somethinger. And it makes it look like she has a hairy face. Gross.
Also Reviewed By:
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I've done it again. I'm in the middle of too many books. Last time I did this, I ALMOST got through them all. Anna Karenina has become the bane of my existence. OK. Maybe not THAT dramatic.
Here's my new list:
1. The Likeness - Tana French (Finished March 20, 2009)
2. If on a winter's night a traveler - Italo Calvino (Finished March 25, 2009)
3. 1984 - George Orwell (Finished April 15, 2009)
4. The Five-Forty-Five to Cannes - Tess Uriza Holthe
5. Foundation - Isaac Asimov
6. The Yacoubian Building - Alaa Al Aswany
7. Humboldt's Gift - Saul Bellow
8. The Dracula Dossier - James Reese
9. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
Since I'm half-way through pretty much all of these...I think I can finish pretty soon. What do you think?
My husband and I will probably have one or two of these tonight:
Our first date was over a pint of Guinness so it brings back memories.
We even celebrated our wedding with Guinness:
And there's tons of great little Irish pubs in the city:I thought this one of Robb was pretty cool. Very old-timey feel:
Here's where I blogged about one of our favorite Irish pubs:
And here's where I've blogged about the Irish Hunger Memorial down near Battery Park.
And I'm currently reading a great novel by Irish author Tana French called The Likeness. It's sort of a stand alone sequel to In the Woods. LOVED that book. And I don't know about you, but from all the great reviews I've been reading, I NEED to read Galway Bay.
Check out NYPL's article Beyond Shamrocks for other interesting St. Patrick's Day stuff.
And just because, here's a video of one of my favorite bands, The Pogues. Enjoy!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The book centers around two women, Harriet and Maeve, who live in Coventry. They had previously met back in 1914, the day
Harriet's husband went off to fight in World War I. They meet again in 1940 during the German blitz on England. Coventry was hit very hard during the war. The entire town was pretty much demolished. When the two meet again in 1940, Harriet is still greiving for her husband who was killed in World War I. Maeve is struggling as a single mom.
And that's pretty much it. The book is sectioned into three parts: 1914 when the two meet, 1940 during the blitz, and later when the two reminice back on the war days. While not the best World War II book, I thought the sections about the blitz pretty much sucked me into the story. How people lived and survived during those times was pretty horrific and heroic at the same time.
I love the hardback cover version I have but here's an alternate cover:
Also Reviewed By:
Age 30+...A Lifetime of Books and her Gram
Monday, March 9, 2009
I loved it!
Holly Golightly. What a character.
The narrator is a young writer who is recalling the memory of when he lived in the same apartment building as Holly Golightly in the Upper East side of New York City. They meet one early early morning because Holly is locked out (a common occurance). Holly dubs the narrator Fred, the name of her older brother, and they become friends.
Holly is eccentric to say the least. She's young...nineteen or twenty...and lives pretty much as call girl. She goes out partying all night and men usually give fifty bucks to go to the ladies, fifty for a cab ride, etc. And the image of Audrey Hepburn fits it perfectly (except Audrey was a bit older than the novel's portrayal...but still). So the novel just outlines this eccentric character who sits on her fire escape and plays the guitar and sings, has a cat with no name, has sketchy dealings with a mob boss who she visits in prison, and a number of other things.
The "breakfast at Tiffany's" part comes from her habit of dressing up, going to Tiffany's and having breakfast whenever she gets the "mean reds"...not the blues mind you.
Here's what Holly said:
"What I've found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany's. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets."
I absolutely loved it.
And because I love this song and scene where Audrey Hepburn sings Henry Mancini's song Moon River:
And some fun covers:
Also Reviewed by:
In Spring it is the Dawn
The whole story revolves around a group of neighbors in suburbia. Cornelia Brown, married just a couple of years, has just made the recent transition from city dweller to urban living. She and her husband want to settle down in a nice place to start raising a family.
Her next door neighbor, Piper Truitt, is exactly the type of person Cornelia was worried about meeting. She critiques everything from Cornelia's clothing to her lawn care. Cornelia also makes friends with a local waitress named Lake and her son Dev, a brilliant and gifted kid.
On the surface, what's so special about the story? Well, the way Marisa de los Santos writes about the interactions between the characters is amazing. I fell in love with Dev and his story. Piper, amazingly, became one of the more interesting and dynamic characters who's evolution in the story was heart-wrenching and great at the same time. All the characters are going through their own trials and problems:
--Dev is trying to figure out why Lake moved them to this small town and if it has anything to do with his father whom he's never met.
--Corniela is trying to start a family and settle in a new town and find her place.
--Piper is dealing with fact that her best friend is facing life threatning cancer.
I just really fell for all the characters. And I just realized that it's the second book from Cornelia's perspective. The first book is Love Walked In, but you can read Belong to Me as a stand alone. Although, now that I got to know the characters, I sort of want to check out the first one.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
So what am I going to say that hasn't already been said on a ton of reviews? I think Stephenie Meyer did improve a bit in her writing skills but she still isn't the greatest writer in the world. However, she does have a way with characters and I did love the idea for the story.
The idea is that the planet has been invaded by aliens. But in all appearances, the world is the same as it always was. Aliens are implanted into the heads of the humans and take over their lives. They still work, go to school, have children, and sometimes even keep their host body's name. They have come to take over because they think we are not doing a good job with our lives and the planet. And they are all things good and peaceful. They call themselves souls.
So the story is told through the eyes of one of these souls named Wanderer (since she's been to so many different planets and lived in hosts). She's been inserted into the body of Melanie Stryder - up until that point one of the last people on earth still resisting the invasion. But Melanie doesn't entirely disapear. Wanderer can still hear her thoughts and frustrations. And Wanderer and Melanie can talk to each other. Melanie is still trying to protect her brother and her love interest, Jared, from getting into the hands of the aliens. And through Melanie's thoughts and memories, Wanderer becomes more sympathetic to the human's plight.
I did like this story. Like other Stephenie Meyer novel, though, I do think that with good writing and editing, the story could have been cut in half from it's large over 600 page size. But I do love that the reader really sympathizes and loves the alien host. That's a great twist. I still think it could be classified as a teen novel. But whatever it is, it's can be a great introduction to the sci-fi genre for people who don't normally read it.
Also Reviewed by:
Ulat Buku in the City
Reading Writing and Ranting
Girls Just Reading
A High and Hidden Place
I finally decided it's about time I read this and had the library hold it for me. First of all, it's such a little book! I mean, it's about this size of my hand. I kind of liked that. Perfect subway reading size. And I loved that each chapter started off with a cool black and white sketch drawing. You can preview the first couple of chapters using Google Books here. But the novel itself???
I am pretty torn. I think I've decided that I liked it. But let me warn you...this isn't really all that accurate about Van Gogh. And it's a little fanciful. Ok. Very fanciful. But the writing...the writing is beautiful. So here we go:
The narrator starts the book in present day New York City. He's sitting outside somewhere on Avenue C, when a woman somehow magically steps through a wall. She's Ursula, Van Gogh's once upon a time paramour. She calls him Louis (we never really know his real name). So then the story flashes between present day Louis and Ursula and the past with Ursula and Van Gogh. And it's all written pretty poetically.
But it's a bit weird. The whole Ursula coming to modern times. And the narrator is clearly in love with her. But Ursula is really just a spoiled girl who's main love is morphine. Yes, there are a lot of drug references. And the story with Van Gogh takes place in time, after he's been sent to the Saint Remy asylum, after he had the ear incident, and is in France. But...in real life, Van Gogh met Ursula in England...way before he was in France. Hmmm. Not too accurate.
And it seems like instead of based in fact, the novel is based on the myth of Van Gogh. The whole depression, alcoholism, love affair, obssesion, ear mutilation, absinthe drinking viewpoint. Are all these things steeped in fact? Some of it. But this is an example:
"When night fell, he'd stick a candle on the brim of his hat and paint until the wax melted down to flickering stubs and the straw went up in flames, his hair and head along with it--a red-headed man on fire, lighting his palette with his fiery crown."
This is a famous portrayal of Van Gogh. Does anyone know if Van Gogh really did this or is this just a famous legend? I was under the impression that it's a bit of a legend.
So my thought on this book? I thought the writing was poetical and at times beautiful. But it seemed that this was mainly the author's love story...his love of the legend of Van Gogh. And Ursuala...well the character isn't factually represented so it's more a tribute to the type of women Van Gogh may have been in love with. So it's sort of a bittersweet novel to me. Very poetic but I guess inaccuracies and fancifulness was sometimes a bit distracting.
Has anyone else read this book? Or any other Van Gogh book?
Do you have any thoughts on the man or legend that is Van Gogh?
And now for Van Gogh's paintings of his "Bad Cafe" which is still around today:
This has been a reading selection for the Art History Reading Challenge.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Anyway, apparently BBC says the average person has read only six of these titles. Hmmm..
****Correction. Apparently the meme came from an article in The Guardian about "What Book You Can't Live Without"
Amanda's Read: 49/100 = 49%
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (ok, only three but still)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (currently reading)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (the first one)
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (wow...seriously?)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (currently reading)
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (yes, I've read them all)
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (doesn't that fall under #33?)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (yep, all of them)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo