[book reviews]

I've decided to relocate my book reviews to their very own site. I'll keep up this archive, but please check out Belletristic for new reviews all the time!

What I've been reading lately, and my thoughts about these books...

Cheat by Christine Norrie: In an effort to learn more about graphic novels, I read this one today. Very fluid artistry, very pretty work. You can tell the artist is a woman - I don't quite know how, but you can tell. I really liked the way she drew her story. Snifty genre!

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand: It's about a horse. How interesting can it be, right? Trust me, folks, you WON'T be able to put this book down! Stirring, amazing, truimphant, crushing and wonderful - I'm looking forward to discussion this in our book discussion group next month. What an incredible read! I wonder how the movie stacks up...

Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned by Kinky Friedman: First of all, it was written by a man named KINKY. How could you pass that up?? This short (220 page) book is fast paced and funny. Kinky's style is unique and takes a few pages to get used to, but after that the book just charges along and takes you with it. I want a Fox and Clyde in my life - even if only for a day or two. Recommended!

Seeking Enlightment, Hat by Hat by Nevada Barr: Barr, my favourite mystery writer, has written a series of short entries about her path to religion, her thoughts on faith, gratitude, her skepticism of God, faith and more. I related to a lot of what she said, and admire her for putting her journey down on paper for everyone, skeptic or no, to read.

Because of Romek: A Holocaust Survivor's Memoir by David Faber: I had the incredible honour of meeing Mr. Faber when he came to the library to talk to a packed house about his Holocaust experience. Each survivor's story is unique, harrowing, and incredibly difficult to hear...but I hope we never forget. These stories are so, so important. A difficult, gut wrenching read, but ultimately worth it, so we never forget.

The Dive From Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer: I've wanted to read this novel for a long time - it just sounded so intriquing. You come to love, hate, sympathize, be annoyed by, adore and want to protect the main character as she struggles with herself, her emotions, her friends, family, and most importantly - the men in her life and the directions they pull her. I'm glad I finally got to read this.

The Observatory by Emily Grayson: This short fiction novel is just sorta eh. Personally, I think my NaNo novel was better written, more interesting, and about the same word count. And also featured a lonely librarian in a small town. ;-)

Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul by Various Authors: You knew I had to read this one, right? :-) Lots of good essays for the NASCAR fan...

The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot: As you know, I'm a big devotee of Meg Cabot. I adore her style, her freshness, and everything she writes - adult or YA. This is at the top of the list as a favorite by her...written entirely as a series of emails, this is the most unique book I've ever read, and it had me laughing my ass off for most of it. You adore the characters, the interplay, and the whole plot. A fantastic, original, great story! I lovelovelove it! No wonder Kelly Ripa picked it for her book club! :-)

Eat Mangoes Naked by Sark: This is that book you pick up and flip through when you need a pick-me-up or inspiration or a reason to do what you love to do. Sark's books are always filled with beautiful colours, inspirational stories, and good advice - like eating mangoes naked. A good warm fuzzy...

Female Intelligence by Jane Heller: This book is a scream! I love the characters, the premise and the writing is fresh and funny as hell! I'm definitely going to be reading more of Heller's novels in the future. A great, fast-paced, easy read - I finished it in two days. Highly recommended! :-)

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates: I've never read any Oates, despite glowing reviews and the fact she produces up to three novels a year. I like her prose, but I found myself skimming passages, jumping paragraphs. The story was compelling enough, but seemed too "padded" to really keep the reader with the book. Mixed reviews on this one...

Fair Weather by Richard Peck: I had the honor of meeting Peck at ILF (and having him autograph my copy of this book!), though I hadn't read his children's stories in years. This, is most recent story, takes place at the Chicago World's Fair in the 1890s. Peck is a talented, engaging storyteller - no wonder he is award winner over and over again.

The Passions of Chelsea Kane by Barbara Delinsky: I've never read anything by this popular author, so when I got an advanced galley of this at ALA, I thought I would give it a whirl (It's coming out in November). A pretty typical romance, with some mystery and twists. Honestly, I prefer Sandra Brown or Nora Roberts, but Delinsky is a very capable, engrossing author.

Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien: The final part of the trilogy - I need to read it before the movie came out in December! A great finale to a great series...though...does anyone else think the climax is there, and then the denouement of the story lasts like, 100 pages? Most books have the big final scene, and then poof, done. Not Tolkien!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling: You know this is going to be a positive review, because it's Harry! This 5th volume is undeniably darker, but then...the evil gets worse, and Harry is getting older. We shouldn't be surprised! A friend gave me sage advice on this one: "When you have 200 pages to go, either sit and read it all in one sitting, or wait until you have time. If not, you'll drive yourself crazy!" And how! Another great volume...

Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton: Okay, I'm officially an addict of this series. Jean-Claude gets sexier, Edward gets cooler, and Anita finds herself a new boyfriend. A great, fast-paced, fantastic read. I need these in a boxed set. Now. :-D

Untangling My Chopsticks by Victoria Abbott: This memoir reveals the author's life in Kyoto, where she moves to learn about the tea kaisei ceremony. A quick, interesting read that made me yearn for good sushi, an adventuresome spirit, and the perfect cup of green tea. A great book for cooks, lovers of food, and people interested in Japan - well, at least I'm two out of three. ;-)

NASCAR'S Most Wanted by Jim McLaurin: This is a slim volume of nothing but top ten lists in NASCAR - top ten championship battles, top ten gentlemen, top ten one race wonders, and so on. A quick, fun, interesting read - highly recommended for racin' fans. Good times. :-)

Wigfield by Amy Sedaris and Stephen Colbert: I had high hopes for this short fiction work, based on the authors sense of humour, but found it fell really flat. A chuckle here and there, but nothing really funny. Not recommended.

Men and Speed by G. Wayne Miller: This is an in-depth look at 2001's racing season, as lived by the Roush Racing stable in NASCAR Winston Cup. Interesting, insightful and an easy read for any fan of NASCAR - though it focuses waaaay too much on Kurt Busch. But I'm only sensitive to that because, you know, I can't stand him.

If Looks Could Kill by Kate White: This "Reading with Ripa" pick was written by Cosmo editor-in-chief White. It's a quick, fun, cutesy mystery, geared much more to the chick-lit genre readers than to tried and true mystery readers. But I liked it - good beach reading!

The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton: The second in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. This series rocks my socks - I can't wait to read the next! Sexy, saucy, crazy and cool. I dig it. I also have developed quite the crush on Jean-Claude. :-)

Taken by Surprise by Susan Johnson: This is a compliation of three stories written by female authors, all very different but for one thing: "three tales of erotic romance". I believe that says it all. :-)

Seraglio by Janet Wallach: This is historical fiction, but based very closely on a true story of a woman taken captive in a sultan's harem in 1800s Turkey. A well-researched, well-written story. Though it was fiction, I feel a learned a little more about geography, history and religion.

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger: This is very akin to the Nanny Diaries - like a car crash you can't tear your eyes from. Makes you wonder about all the celebrities/famous people running around out there...a good, frothy read for a Saturday afternoon. :-)

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold: This book is absolutely astounding, breathtaking, amazing. And indescribable. Just trust me, and the millions of other people who have read this moving tale, read it. It will change you. It will absolutely change you.

Trading Spaces - The Official Guide: This is a guilty pleasure, because really, who doesn't love this show? Contains bios, a complete episode guide and lots of goodies. A thoroughly enjoyable read for a TS junkie like me. :-)

Expat - A Compilation: This book is a collection of essays written by women about their experiences living abroad. Some where funny, some uplifting, some depressing and some sad, this was a great read. I traveled with these women to China, to Prague, to Italy and to Borneo, without leaving my chair. It made me yearn to travel more than I can say.

Joy of Knitting by Lisa Myers: This nonfiction book is exactly what the title implies - a book about why knitting is fabulous. :-) Packed with history, background and information on selecting projects, this book inspired me to restart the knitting that has floundered in my care for the last few months. :-)

Open House by Elizabeth Berg: Berg is another author I have heard so much about but never read. I really, really enjoyed this story. A quick read, you are immediately drawn into the quirky characters, the emotions of the main character, and the resolution of the tale is warm and fuzzy. I wholeheartedly recommend this as a story to read on a Saturday afternoon, curled up with a cup of tea.

Disappeared by Lynn Mason: The second of the "Alias" prequel stories. I still enjoy reading about Sydney's "college days" and her slowly meeting the characters now on the show, but these are YA stories, so I tend to read them quickly for just a break from reality. A nice diversion for a few hours...

Plainsong by Kent Haruf: Read 30 pages and couldn't handle the style - no quotation marks, no dilineation of what character is speaking, etc. Returned it to the library without reading any more.

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris: I've wanted to read more Harris since finishing Chocolat, and this was next on the list. I still enjoy the writing style of Harris, but I liked this story considerably less. The flashback style works well, but I just didn't care for the juxtaposition of the characters within the stories. If you are going to read Harris, read Chocolat.

The Greatest Stories Never Told: 100 Tales from History to Astonish, Bewilder and Stupefy by Rick Beyer: This is a great little book about all those quirky things in history you thought you knew, or never knew, or flat out want to know - like how did Attila the Hun die, or why didn't Shakespeare almost happen? A great, fun, easy little book to read - very cool!

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton: Again, I have Carrie to thank for this recommendation. Thus far, I much prefer this to the Merry series. This series (of which GP is first) is the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series, and contrary to the title, she ain't Buffy. ;-) Sexy vampires, kickass vampire hunters, otherworldliness without being cheesy or trite, this is a superior horror/suspense/fantasy series. I can't wait to read more!

A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel: A selection for my book discussion group, I wanted to read this story early, as I've heard of it for several years now. The chapter-sized stories are charming, funny, cute, sad, and so down home, you can't help but love it. Though I hate this as a descriptor, the word "cute" perfectly sums up this book.

Gossip Hound by Wendy Holden: A fairly typical chick-lit story set in London in the world of publishing. However, there is a deliciously evil, bitchy, horrid character that you just love to hate. That set aside this book, but the rest was fairly formulaic. Not a favorite.

Princess in Waiting by Meg Cabot: I love Cabot, and I love the Princess series, and this newest edition didn't disappoint. Still laugh out loud funny, still believable, and still the cutest YA series I've ever read. I'm addicted to Mia and her antics, her princessdom, and all the trappings that go along with it. I can't stress enough how much I enjoy this light-hearted series.

Caress of Twilight by Laurell K. Hamilton: The second in the Merry Gentry series, recommended to me by Carrie. I liked the mysticism and hidden eroticism of this book. The characters were compelling, the story entertaining and sexy, and man, every girl needs guards like Merry has. ;-) An interesting series still in infancy, I think it has a lot of potential to go in different directions. Good escapist literature.

Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh: I thought I would like this book more than I did. Three women, all married to the same man at different times, comprise the three sections of the book, but there is no resolution for each, no ending. The just blur together into a run-on story of this bastard man and the women who fell for him. I just didn't like the pacing or the story or the characters. Thumbs down.

Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie: I love this book. I *love* this book. It's fast-paced, funny, cute and just a great read with great characters. I plan to read lots more by this funny, talented author. Despite the title, it's a mystery and not just about sex. I swear. :-)

Lost Subs by Spencer Dunmore: Wow, I haven't read nonfiction in a while! I'm a big submarine geek (hence the Hunt for Red October love), so I thought this was a really interesting book. Good stories, great pictures, and lots of detail. Probably not for everyone though. ;-)

Invitation to Valhalla by Mike Whicker: A story written by a local author, based on a true story about World War II Nazi espionage, the infiltration of America, and differing opinions of the war. A really good read, and interesting because so much was set here locally. Incidentally, I contacted the author and he's coming to speak at my library next month. Rawk!

Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey: I've read this before, but we read it for the library book discussion group. I think this is a fantastic mystery - quick and easy to read, but it really stays with you. Was Richard II really the evil king everyone thinks (who murdered the Little Princes in the Tower), or just the recipient of lots of bad propaganda. This book turns history on it's ear - highly recommended.

Brit-Think, Ameri-Think by Jane Walmsley: This is a funny, cute little book, but only if you are like me - half and half. Only Ango-Americans or ex-pats would find the humour in much of it.

Prague by Arthur Phillips: I gave this book a few chapters, but I couldn't get into it, so I put it away. Bummer.

Beauty's Release by A.N. Roquelaire: The third part of the most famous erotic trilogy around. A.N. (otherwise known as Anne Rice) writes like no other. Lots of naughtiness, sexiness, spankings and violation for even the most hard core folks. A classic novel.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli: This book is really beautiful. Confusing, honest, inspiring and brilliant. I want to know Stargirl - I want a part of me to be like a part of her. And I want all the girls in high school who were different or shunned to read this book and feel better about themselves. A beautiful novel.

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket: I had to read the first of this popular children's series to read what all the hype was about. Cleverly written for children, I love that the author doesn't condescend to his readers, and if he does include "big words", explains them in an easy, nonthreatening way. Interesting series...

Flashback by Nevada Barr: The eleventh installment in the Anna Pigeon series. Though not one of my favorites in the series, this book is solid and well written as always. I didn't care for the switch between Anna's present time and the letters she reads from the past - I always found myself impatient to get back to Anna's story. Still, another new park, another new adventure from Anna!

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen: This is actually a Young Adult book, written from two points of view - each chapter alternates between Bryce and Juliana, combining for interesting spins on situations and conversations from them both. A clean, well written book - I think junior high kids would really like it.

Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love by Jill Browne: You spend the entire book trying to decide if this is for real, and if these wacky women exist, but at least you laugh while you are reading. Particularly amused by the blowjob promise chapter. :-)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Though I've read this several times, I still hold my breath to see how everything will turn out. And I come to adore Atticus more and more with each reading. This is the book of the month for our discussion group, and I'm looking forward to discussing it with other readers. I continue to be amazed that Lee only wrote this one book. Either that's genius, or a real tragedy.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch: The lyricism of this book was stunning. The story is sad, twisted and shocking, but the way it's written is just so beautiful. I looked forward to every letter from Ingrid, just to see how she would phrase each and every thought. I'm glad I finally got to read what all the Oprah hoopla was about - and that it was deserved.

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain: Bourdain (you might know him from FoodTV's A Cook's Tour show) is a famous, well respected chef in New York. What I learned from Anthony - doing lots of cocaine, sleeping with lots of people and being psychotic are requirements of chefdom. Likewise, I learned when never to eat fish in New York and what NOT to order from some restaurants. A really interesting, funny read, but I suspect I wouldn't have liked it if I didn't like A Cook's Tour so much...

The Burning by Tim Madigan: A true story about the race riots of Tulsa, OK in 1921 - an event I never knew about. This book was engrossing, frightening and saddening. How simple skin colour could lead to such atrocity will never fail to fascinate and sicken me. The one thing I took away from this book...my god, what else in our history did we never know about?

She Went All the Way by Meggin Cabot: When writing for an adult audience, Cabot goes by Meggin (who, incidently is from Bloomington. Represent!). Just as funny and quick as her Princess novels, I really like this book as a fun, entertaining read. I often found myself laughing out loud, and I came to love every character. A fun story!

Princess in Love by Meg Cabot: The third volume of the Princess set certainly didn't disappoint. Again I found myself literally laughing out loud and enjoying every page. A super fast, enjoyable, funny read. Highly recommend!

River's End by Nora Roberts: Because when you are moving and crazy and don't know where you are sleeping from night to night, you need a little Nora Roberts. This story is just the right balance of interesting, sexy and inventive to keep anyone interested, and is a great title that can be picked up and put down a thousand times while your life spins out of control. ;-)

Liberty Falling by Nevada Barr: I had read this title ages ago, and found it to be my least favorite of Nevada's Anna Pigeon series. I decided to reread it and it grew on me more this time, though it still ranks low on the list. I would recommend A Superior Death or Firestorm before I would recommend this title.

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides: I thought the writing and storytelling of this book was absolutely fantastic. I couldn't put it down once I began reading, and even though you know from page one there is no happy ending, you can't help rooting for the boys throughout the novel - in the hopes they can save these desperate and strange girls. I highly recommend this title.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie: I've never read any Rushdie, but Erica recommended this title as a good "starter" book. Though I'm sure one could read any depth of meaning into this tale, I read it as a lighthearted fable, a tale that one might hear around a campfire. A quick read, and full of pleasant passages and an easy style.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood: The style of this book took getting used to - Atwood is clearly not a fan of quotation marks or delineation of words between characters. The story is fascinating (and based on true events), but the ending left me cold. The virtual disappearance of Simon and the fact we never find the truth about Jeremiah bother me, but an interesting read nonetheless.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman: Maire recommended this children's book to me, and the illustrations alone are enough to scare you! This story is flat-out creepy, so I wonder how children react to it. The ending was odd - you think there is resolution and an ending, but then the story continues for several more chapters, though in the end, it needed to happen that way. Interesting read, definitely, and a quick one as well.

In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner: This is Weiner's followup to one of my favorite books, Good in Bed. I didn't like this novel quite as much as the first, but I loved the interplay between the sisters, and sympathized so much with the older sister. I liked the way Weiner weaved three separate stories into one using chapter breaks and character switches. Great writing style, easy to read, and my favorite...a happy ending.

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse: Read this based on Erica's suggestion. I thought this was a nice parable with a good message, though it's not really my style or something I would ordinarily read. I did enjoy teasing Erica about when there would be the car chase scene or the gunfight in the small town. ;-)

Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier: I thought this book was beautiful - lyrical - enchanting. I found myself staring at the photo of the painting throughout the story, and I know I will never look at it the same again. Though a work of fiction, Chevalier's weaves such a story around one painting and the meager facts known about Vermeer. A truly unique tale that I couldn't put down.

About a Boy by Nick Hornby: This was the first Hornby I've read, and I loved it. The style is fantastic, the characters quirky but loveable, the plot silly but serious. I loved the Kurt Cobain parts, the growth of the characters, the Hornby's writing style is fantastic and paced perfectly. Two thumbs up!

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons: This was listed by MCPL as "comfort" reading and "short but sweet" reading. It was short - mercifully. I didn't like the characters, I didn't like the setting, and I didn't like how trite and silly the whole story was - and that there were several unresolved plot parts. Not a favorite, by any stretch.

Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson: I've heard over and over that I should read something by this author. While the story itself did not grip me, the lyricism of this author did. It wasn't so much that I was writing a story, but rather reading poetry translated into prose. I found myself most frustrated at not knowing whether the main character (who is having an affair with a married woman) is a male or female, and found myself unable to fully relate or trust the character.

The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler: After hearing so much about this, I had to read it for myself. I thought it was interesting and inspiring, but I wonder how differently it presents as a stage show. It's one thing to read these words and feel, eh, a little empowered. I imagine the stage show is a much more profound experience for many women.

Double Fold by Nicholson Baker: Clearly written by someone who is *not* a librarian, this book sets out to villify librarians who had anything to do with weeding of collections, microfilming or space decisions in the last century. Don't get me wrong, I understand his perspective, and I don't like the idea of throwing away things any more than Baker does, but I understand the space crisis in libraries, I understand that sometimes the knowledge is more important than the media, and I understand that preservation and conservation are two different things. Agreed, some librarians made erroneous decisions in weeding, but that does not make the rest of us any less caring or concerned about our collections. Baker has obviously never worked in a library or worked with librarians. In fact, he goes on to say that offsite storage facilities are bad because they aren't "browsable" - well, either we withdraw the books or we make them unbrowsable but still accessible. Pick your battles, Baker. Though his research is thorough and impressive, I don't appreciate his inclusion of what a martyr he is by purchasing old newspapers just to "save" them in some dusty warehouse somewhere. The most interesting thing in this book, to me, was how much the Librarians of Congress and the employees of the LOC have been tied to the CIA, the military, and the government. No MLSes here, but lots of nuclear/physics/intelligence/military backgrounds. I had no idea. Baker achieved what he was going for in this book - outraging librarians. Now I understand why this book has been talked about so much in the last two years.

America the Beautiful by Moon Unit Zappa: I was skeptical about this book, but I ended up loving it. It's a break-up-survival-find-a-new-man-and-break-up-again story, but her style is funny, fresh and easy to read. A lot is obviously semi-auto-biographical (dead famous father, crazy family, LA, etc), but I really enjoyed it. I'd like to read another story by Moon Unit to see where she goes next in her storytelling, since she covered so much close-to-home stuff in this tale.

Split by Bill James: Read 30 pages and hated it. Quit reading it.

Shining Through by Susan Isaacs: I love Susan's writing and her stories. They flow and the pages just fly by. Her style is at once familiar and funny, and her stories always have developed characters and interesting plots. Lily White is still my fave of hers, but I enjoyed this story as well.

Our Singular Strengths: Meditations for Librarians by Michael Gorman: Part feel-good mantras, part lecture, and part grandstanding, this book is a series of one page "meditations" on various aspects of libraries. Some made me roll my eyes, but reading this book reminds me why librarianship is important, noble and why I think I would kick ass at it. Reading some of these entries makes me proud of my chosen profession, and remind me of all the little things that librarianship means.

Knocked Out By My Nunga-Nungas by Louise Rennison: The third in the series of Georgia's diaries. This one was even funnier than the rest, and made me laugh out loud several times. Quick to read, and makes me smile every time. Can't wait for the fourth to find out which boy she ends up with!

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett: This book was just...phenomenal. Rich in conflict, characterization, emotion and confusion, you spend the book watching relationships be built out of the most trying of situations and try not to picture how the book will end. I was as shocked as the characters as scenes unfolded at the end of the novel. A story about the power of music, of love, and of bonds formed in the most unlikely of ways. The most unique and stirring novel I've read in a long, long time.

Wifey by Judy Blume: Bored housewife, unsatisfying sex, silly characters. I thought I would like this more, but frankly...didn't.

Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate: This is a classic tale where there is a story, but it's designed to give you a "message". The message of this story is to appreciate family, to take time for yourself, and to appreciate all that you have, even if you feel you want something more. It was a pleasant tale, but I felt slightly ill from the saccarine symbolism and messages. Not my favorite...

The Wildest Ride: A History of NASCAR (or How a Bunch of Good Ol' Boys Built a Billion-Dollar Industry out of Wrecking Cars) by Joe Menzer: I read this book a while ago, and it was time to reread it. I love the stories about how my favorite sport got started (moonshine, my friends) and some of the more "colourful" characters from the sport. This is a great introduction into how NASCAR came to be, and how some of the top names became the top names. It even covers Earnhardt's death and the impact it had on the sport. A good, solid, fairly speedy read. I like it. :-)

A Kiss Remembered by Sandra Brown: Now, I like sappy romance as much as the next gal, but this one was a bit over the top. A short read at under 200 pages, it is a cute story with lots of sexy scenes, but I had trouble really believing the story. No men like this exist in the world. I like reading Sandra Brown's longer stories, where she really develops the plots and characters (The Alibi, Fat Tuesday, etc), but her shorter stories are pretty much instant attraction and many sex scenes. Which, let's face it, sometimes we all need. :-)

The Boxcar Children by Getrude Warner: This was one of my favorite books as a child, and one of the first books I remember reading totally alone. I wanted to read it again to refresh my memory. I still love the idea of the children living alone and surving on their own wits and intelligence, but I had forgotten the sappy ending. This is a speedy, speedy read (being a children's book and all), but it brought back good memories of reading it to my family as a child.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman: I've seen the movie so many times, but I've never read the book (thanks for the suggestion, Erica!). It was great to learn more about Inigo and Fezzik, and to read some of the scenes that are so vivid in the movies. I love the style Goldman uses in "breaking in" in his own voice and talking about all the cuts he made to Morgenstern's original. Very cool. This was a quick read, and a good one - next time I see the movie, I'll have to compare stories.

Don't Sleep With Your Drummer by Jennifer Sincero: I thought this book was hys-ter-ical! I absolutely loved her sarcasm, her hilarious situations and the whole style and animation of the book. It's a quick read, and even though I've never been in a band, I can totally see that *every* band would have these growing pains. Highly recommend this for a quick, funny read.

Shampoo Planet by Douglas Coupland: Maybe I read this too soon after reading Microserfs, but I didn't connect with this story as much as Microserfs. I still enjoyed it, and his writing style is just fantastic, but it's a bit more fantastical and a little harder to love the characters. I still recommend the read, but Microserfs was my favorite.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris: I *loved* this book. I actually saw the movie first, and really enjoyed it. But the book is so rich and mysterious and delves into so many aspects of a small town, I couldn't put it down. You develop so much affection for the characters and I can totally visualize this town and the struggles it endures when Vianne comes to town. I love this book - read it! :-)

Princess in the Spotlight by Meg Cabot (Volume II of the Princess Diaries): I don't know why, I just needed to read a kid's book. I liked the movie (I mean, come on. Julie Andrews) and I thought the books looked cute, so I picked up Volume II. This book is *hysterical*. I love the style, the sarcasm, the whole premise. Mia loves Baywatch and Dirty Dancing, hates not having breasts, and is in lust for her best friend's brother. And she's a princess. I laughed out loud a lot. I really loved this book - and it was a zippy read. Seriously, if you have a couple of hours, read this one. It's a happy book.

Endangered Species by Nevada Barr: This was a re-read for me, and I think I liked it considerably better the second time. I adore the character of Anna Pigeon - I wanna be just like her when I grow up. She's smart, she sarcastic, and she's the sort of character you root for and feel like you know after the first two pages. This mystery series rocks my socks, since I'm generally not a mystery kind of gal.

The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank: I really loved the style of this book. Each chapter was a different time in the main character's life - a different type, a different situation and a different perspective. It was a quick read, and an enjoyable one. I thought maybe the "Bridget Jones' Genre" as I call it, would be burnt out and that this book would be a carbon copy, but it's fresh and unique. I enjoyed it - a recommended read for a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Summertime by Rafaella Barker: Basically, take Bridget Jones' Diary, set it in the English countryside and give her three unruly kids. Light and fluffy, it was enjoyable enough, though it never "grabbed" me to the point where I had to run through the book. I did like that she referred to her three year old as The Beauty. Not once did we learn the child's real name - quite funny, really...

Microserfs by Douglas Coupland: I admit it...I've never read any Coupland before, and now I wonder why not. This book was funny, touching, extremely well-written and hard to put down. I *loved* the writing style, and though all the characters might be considered misfits or geeks, you can't help but love and root for them. This is a fantastic read, and I *highly* recommend it. I can't wait to pick up another Coupland novel. If you have a suggestion of which one to read next, sign the guestbook and let me know. ;-)

How to Make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto: I really liked the way this story was written - each chapter focuses on one of the "quilting group" and the in between chapters made you, the reader, a character in the book. The quilt is an obvious metaphor in literature, but in this short story, it works. A good read for a quiet Saturday afternoon.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera: I was moved to read this book for sevaral reasons: it takes place in and around Prague, it was supposedly one of the sexiest movies ever (though I haven't seen it yet!), and I have never read and Kundera. I'm not sure what to think of this book - the way Kundera weaves philosophy into a story is clever, and I like his writing style (considering it was translated from Czech). But, I thought the characters were so cold and unfeeling. Yes, there was sex and intrique, but I didn't feel passion from any of them. A worthwhile read, but not one I would pick up again. Maybe I need to see the movie...

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon: I thought this book started off wonderfully - the writing was rich and full, the story amazing and fantastical, and the characters so sympathetic. I liked so much of the book, and the style of the book, but unlike most people, I didn't care for the last...quarter or so, of the book. I lost all sympathy for the characters, I thought the ending was trite, and so many issues unresolved. For such a wonderful beginning, and as much as I enjoyed it, I was ultimately disappointed in the ending. However, I would still recommend it, based on the great style and creativity of the book.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris: I didn't know what to expect from this book, as I knew nothing about the style or anything about the author (other than that his sister is Amy Sedaris). I found this book funny, honest, and almost frightening - it's hard to believe that these stories Sedaris weaves are actually based in fact. Makes my family look like the Ingalls. Great, fast read - highly recommended.

On the Side of the Angels, Christina Bartolomeo: I love this author, and I love her style. I find myself immediately drawn into the characters, and find myself rooting for them throughout. The characters are flawed but loveable, smart but vulnerable, sassy but kind. Read Cupid and Diana, and then read this one as well.

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging and On the Bright Side, I'm the Girlfriend of a Sex God by Louise Rennison: Sometimes, you have to regress, and these are the perfect books to regress into. Think Bridget Jones' Diary meets a 14-year old English girl, and all the trials and tribulations that come with it. Each book only takes about an hour or so to read, and I was giggling throughout. When you need a break from reality, read these.

Shopgirl by Steve Martin: I loved the way this book started, but then it seemed to go downhill from there. The writing style worked well for the story, and in some ways the story made me sad, because I could see characteristics of myself in the lead character of Mirabelle. However, the last half of the story just didn't work for me. A quick read, but not a highly recommended one.

The Perfect Elizabeth by Libby Schmais: I loved the concept of this book - the complex relationships between sisters, and between lovers. This is a sort of "rainy day" book to read with a cup of tea while wrapped up in a blanket. I liked the book, but at times had trouble sympathizing with the lead character - who generally is lazy and overexpectant. I enjoyed it, but not as much as I had hoped. Still, it's a good fill for a couple of hours...

The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus: This car is like a car crash - it's horrifying but you can't look away. A truly spectacular look into the nanny industry in NYC with all the fussy, overbearing, overwhelming mothers and the poor, overworked, underpaid nannies. A great read, and a great lead character. You just can't put this one down until you finish it. Truly like a car crash.

Hunting Season by Nevada Barr: The second of Anna's adventures on the Natchez Trace - the characters, therefore, are already developed and you can dive right into the next mystery. I love this series to death, and this book perfectly fits the expectations of Barr's novels - fast, sassy, bold and a mystery to the end. I love this series - read them all!