January 30, 2011

january book review...

So, two of my friends did this (Miss Pottenger and JoyGirl), and since I never do a long list because it is too daunting, I thought this might be something I could handle. Each month I'll review the books I read that month--and maybe a quote if I have one--so you can see what I'm reading. I'm also on Goodreads, where you can see all the books I have read (that I can remember, there are a few I've forgotten!).

The rating is the same as Goodreads--5 stars means "it was amazing," 4 is "really liked it," 3 is "liked it," 2 is "it was okay," and 1 is "didn't like it."

Click, Clack, Moo by Doreen Cronin (4 stars)

This one is a cute kids book that had a great storyline. The cows in the barn are cold and they ask the farmer for blankets. The stingy farmer doesn't want to give the cows blankets. If that isn't a fantastic set-up, I don't know what is! I read it in the company of several friends. We all got a great laugh.

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (3 stars)

A story about two mothers--Kativa, the one who gave birth to a daughter that her culture wouldn't allow to live, and Somer, the one who adopted her. Set in both America and India, it explores how two cultures collide through the powers of family and blood. I did get a little miffed when Somer visits India and her Indian in-laws fail to teach her how to eat with her hands (and then get upset with her)--and equally miffed at Somer for her failure to ask to be taught. What can I say? If I can learn it, so can any silly character!

Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins (3 stars)

This is the second in a series, the first of which (Hunger Games) I read in December. The series follows a young girl, Katniss, who takes her sister's place in the vile gladiator type game run by the ruling government. In the second installment we find Katniss back at home, ready to settle into post-game life. But the government isn't going to allow that--and now Katniss is finding that the districts are looking to her to help start a revolution. While Collins' kept me engaged, I was able to easily guess where this one was going, and therefore never had that thrill of discovery that I long for when reading.

Mocking Jay (Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins (2 stars)

The third in the series. This one finds Katniss as the revolution's not-so-thrilled poster child. The only reason I kept reading was to find out who Katniss ended up with (there is, of course, a love triangle through the three books, and that was slightly more interesting than the main storyline--Collins did a good job with the romance angle, and that's not easy!). Again, no fantastic surprises, but it was a decent read.

Things We Didn't See Coming by Steven Amsterdam (4 stars)

In these nine linked narratives, Amsterdam crafts a world where the turn of the millennium didn't go smoothly, and one young man is set on a journey that will challenge the ideas of survival and what it means to be human. I really enjoyed this one--Amsterdam's a great writer, and his ideas were fresh and interesting. Due to content, I can't recommend this to many, but I really did enjoy the book.

Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or Love, Death, and the SAT's by Paula Marantz Cohen (2 stars)

Anne Ehrlich, a high school counselor, was persuaded by her family not to marry the love of her life when she was younger. Years later, he's back, and Anne is a different woman. Will she win him back despite his new fiance? A decent story based on Austen's Persuasion. While basing a novel on any Austen masterpiece leads to predictable outcomes, Cohen keeps the tone light. Though I had a hard time relating to the whole craze over the SATs (we never got weird about them--in fact, I never took the SAT, just ACT).

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (5 stars)

The story of two magicians who seek to bring magic back to England in the 1600's--this one is thick, both in size and quality of writing. The two title characters lead an amazing cast full of interesting figures--lords and ladies, fairies, and magicians. Clarke manages to keep me guessing at what will happen next. Her use of footnotes was charming, and I'm tempted to never use a period after Mr again! I highly recommend this one to anyone who enjoys good writing, magical stories, or just books that keep you engaged.

Favorite Quote: (this one had so many, but I only wrote down two, of which you get one) He understood for the first time that the world is not dumb at all, but merely waiting for someone to speak to it in a language it understands.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (4 stars)

I thought this would be about cross-country racing, but it's not. It's about car racing, and it's told from the viewpoint of a dog. Far from being silly, it's a very touching story about a man who is trying to figure out life. He finds a wife, has a daughter, has a home, and then his world starts to fall apart. The dog, Enzo, tells us all the pains and goings-on, and through his eyes, we see who Denny (the human) is, and how his skill as a race car driver influences his entire life. A very good read that I recommend to anyone who doesn't have animal story issues :P.

Favorite quote: So much of language is unspoken. So much of language is comprised of looks and gestures and sounds that are not words. People are ignorant of the vast complexity of their own communication.

And those were my eight books for January.


miruialiel.eternalprincess said...

Awesome! =D Thank you for sharing with us.

I love the wide variety that you read. *is one of your Goodreads stalkers* ;)

stephanie said...

Love this. I don't have time (as a mom of 5) to read that much, but I wish I could. Most of my books are the picture book variety. (Have you read any of Jon Scieszka picture books? Very FUN for older kids).

Some of my friends have read / recommended the Suzanne Collins books and I have the first on hold. Sounds like it will be a quick read.

Jonathan Strange...looks like one I'll have to check out. Another book that's been recommended is the something literary potato peel society...have you read it? What did you think?

Sara said...

I haven't read the Potato Peel Society one, but a friend of mine had it a few weeks ago.

Strange & Norrell is fantastic, but I would suggest finding a used copy--it is almost 800 pages and it reads much slower than most--I know people who have had to check it out several times just to finish. But it is a great book!

I'll have to check out Scieszka--I love a good children's book!