Monday, February 18, 2008


Sudden Death by David Rosenfelt

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Challenge: 2nds
Andy Carpenter's affair with Laurie and how that relationship progresses is a sidebar to the main courtroom action of Andy defending a famous football player from the charge of murdering a player from a rival team. A Hollywood screenwriter sent to write about a previous case that Andy had won, helps with that defense; finding a series of deaths that may get Andy's client off the hook. In this novel, I found Andy's insecurities about Laurie out of character with his expertise and cunning as a trial lawyer. His whining was annoying and often the dialog, flat. But, as in the first book, the investigation and courtroom antics were riveting and entertaining. And Andy's love for his dog, Tara, is quite endearing. While I didn't enjoy this book as much as the first one, I'm willing to read more of the series since I've heard so many good things.
Rating: 3.5
Posted by Framed at 9:56 AM

Literary Feline said...
That's too bad that this one didn't quite live up to its predecessor. Hopefully future books in the series will be better.
11/24/2007 5:06 PM
Carrie K said...
I love Andy and Tara's relationship. Laurie's? Not so much.
11/26/2007 4:50 PM
Bellezza said...
Please consider joining my Japanese Literature Challenge. The details came be found at:'d love to talk more books with you!
12/01/2007 7:29 AM
Booklogged said...
I won't add this series to my list until you read 1 or 2 more. I'll let you continue to test the waters before I jump in.Just thought I'd let you know that since Candleman has retired he's regularly posting on his blogs, Carpe Crustulum. They are interesting posts and he would love to hear from you.


The Secret of Lsot Things

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"The Secret of Lost Things" was one of the first audio books that I downloaded to my new Ipod. Unfortunately, I'm severely challenged with this new technology. The other book I downloaded skipped after a minute of each track which was terribly annoying and I finally gave it up. With "Secret", only the first two or three tracks skipped, so I was able to follow the storyline quite well. But about halfway through, it started back on the tenth track and did that a couple of times. I gave up and checked the book out from the library so I could finish it. Because I desperately wanted to know how it turned out. The novel is the story of Rosemary Savage who loses her mother when she is eighteen and never knew her father. She decides to leave her native Tasmania for New York City. Shortly after arriving, she lands a job at the Arcade, a huge bookstore which specializes in rare and antique books. Listening to this part was fascinating because the narrator did the accents so well, and Hay makes each character memorable. Besides the naive but lovely Rosemary, we meet among others: Oscar, the handsome manager of the nonfiction section, who only loves the quest for knowledge; Pearl, the transsexual with a heart of gold who will shortly have his/her life altering surgery; Mr. Mitchell, the overweight fatherly figure from the Rare Books room; and Walter Geist, the lonely, extremely odd albino who is the general manager of the Arcade. With such a varied and eclectic cast, who can blame me for being slightly ?? put out when my Ipod starting acting up. Hay takes her time building up these characters and setting the scene for the intrigue that follows as they try to obtain a lost manuscript that would be incredibly valuable. I especially loved that most of the action takes place in a bookstore that is chaotic and as eccentric as the staff who works there. Upon visiting the city library, Rosemary says: "I knew books to be objects that loved to cluster and form disordered piles, but here books seemed robbed of their zany capacity to fall about, to conspire. In the library, books behaved themselves." The conflict at the heart of the book builds up to a crashing crescendo that I probably would have enjoyed even more if I had listened to it instead of reading it. The lost manuscript becomes an allegory for the losses that Rosemary suffers during the year covered by the novel. At the end she holds an unopened present given to her by a friend when she left Tasmania. "There it was in my lap: a secret that told me that nothing is truly lost, but is simply replaced." This was such an interesting, well-written book that I'm sure I would have liked better if I had been able to read or listen to it all in the same medium. There is one weird and disturbing sexual encounter and I found the ending a little flat, otherwise, this was a really good book.
Rating: 4
Posted by Framed at 5:43 PM

Booklogged said...
Sounds good. Maybe we should get together and see if we can figure out what's wrong with the iPod. (I mean with the help of kids who are more techno-wise than we are.
11/19/2007 12:46 AM
Cassie said...
I'll have to take a look at your ipod when I come home and see what's going on.
11/19/2007 8:52 AM
Carrie K said...
Glad my iPhone isn't doing that. But I did go and buy the book I was listening to on it because it was just taking too darn long to hear it! Secrets sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out.


Vision of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Challenge: Christmas Theme
Book Around the States - New Jersey

I thought it would be fun to read this book for the Christmas Theme Book Challenge plus it was one of the few books that I found set in New Jesery. And I have always found the Stephanie Plum novels to be fun, light, and slightly bawdy reading. But the elements that I truly enjoyed: the relationship of Plum with her boyrfriend, Joe Morelli, and her attraction to the very dangerous Ranger were missing from this novel. The Elements that annoyed me: her raucous and dysfunctional family were a key ingredient. Granted this is a book about Christmas and should play up the family angle, but I didn't enjoy it. The mystery and the Christmas cheer were slight. True, there was a good-looking male for Plum to spar with, but the humor seemed flat to me. All in all, not what I expected. What a letdown.

Also, even though the book is set in Trenton, New Jersey; the flavor of that city was missing from this particular Plum novel.

Rating: 2

Posted by Framed at 9:04 PM
Literary Feline said...
I've come to believe that the non-numbered books may not be worth reading. I was less than impressed with Visions of Sugar Plums also. As you said, it was missing some of the elements that I like in the series.

11/15/2007 11:02 PM
Joy said...
I've only stuck with her numbered series. This confirms my decision. :)

11/16/2007 6:36 AM
Lynne said...
I haven't been thrilled with the between-the-number books either. I want more Joe and Ranger!


I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

2nds Challenge
**I was so impressed with Zusak's "The Book Thief" that I wanted to read some of his other works; and "I am the Messenger" did not disappoint.
**Ed Kennedy is your basic nineteen-year-old loser. He drives a cab because his best friend, Audrey, got him the job. He lives in the same town where he grew up even though his father died a year ago and his mother hates him. His home is a prefab shack where he lives with a smelly dog, The Doorman, inherited from his dad. The book begins with Ed lying on the floor of a bank with his friends, Marv and Ritchie, while a robbery takes place. The robber is incompetent and Ed ends up apprehending him. This act leads to a chain of events in which Ed receives four cards, beginning with the Ace of Diamonds and ending with the Ace of Hearts. Each card has clues which Ed must decipher and take action on. How Ed's life changes along with those he comes in contact with is at the heart at this fascinating novel.
**I really like the way Zusak writes and how he draws you into the lives of his characters. Ed Kennedy is a truly sympathetic and entertaining character. Some of his antics were funny, some sad and some a little scary, but always engrossing. While this book did not have the same emotional impact as "The Book Thief", it was very thought provoking and rewarding.
Rating: 5
Posted by Framed at 1:53 PM

raidergirl3 said...
I really loved this book too, I think I liked it even more as I remembered it afterwards. I loved Ed's faith, to do the right thing, and trust in himself to figure out what to do. Zusak is amazing - and I haven't even read The Book Thief yet, but I plan to.
11/13/2007 6:18 PM
Booklogged said...
That Zusak kid is really talented, isn't he. Both books are so different but both are so good. Hubby liked this one even better than Book Thief. I think I favored Book Thief most.
11/13/2007 8:25 PM
SuziQoregon said...
Woo Hoo!! I've got this one planned for next month for a couple of challenges. I'm really looking forward to it.
11/13/2007 9:51 PM
Joy said...
Hooray...another positive for Zusak! :)You've made me want to get to it sooner rather than later.
11/14/2007 5:28 AM
Nymeth said...
He really sounds like an author I will like. I'm going to read The Book Thief next year, and then this one at some point in the future.
11/14/2007 6:08 AM
gautami tripathy said...
I think I will read him in the new year. I have wanted to for some time now.
11/14/2007 9:16 AM
Framed said...
I envy those who get to read the Book Thief for the first time. Much as I like Messenger, I liked The Book Thief even more.
11/14/2007 8:25 PM
Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...
This sounds really good. I haven't read The Book Thief - I'll have to add these both to my Mountain!
11/15/2007 9:34 AM
gautami tripathy said...
I need to read both!!
11/17/2007 10:40 AM
Stephanie said...
I just picked up this book from the library!! I read the first chapter last night after work, and I can tell I'm going to love it!!
11/18/2007 10:30 AM
Les said...
I must read this!! Soon!!


I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Thursday, November 08, 2007

"I Capture the Castle" has been on my TBR list for ages so it was great that I could read it for the Book to Movie Challenge. The book is composed of Cassandra Mortmain's journal entires over a six-month period. Her family lives in a crumbling castle on the edge of poverty as her father has suffered from writer's block for 13 years. Big sister, Rose, wants to marry a wealthy man and escape hunger, cold and old clothes. Younger brother, Thomas, is quite a wise soul, but we really don't get to know much of him until the end of the book. Step-mother, Topaz, is a free-spirit with a hard-working housewife's soul. Stephen is a boarder whose wages keeps the family from starving. He is also incredibly good-looking and in love in Cassandra. And Cassandra herself is seventeen and dreams of being a writer. Enter two rich brothers from America who have inherited the castle along with a nearby manor home. I enjoyed reading Cassandra's thoughts and enjoyed the glimpses into the workings of her English, teen-age mind. But when she decides she's in love with the wrong man, I was a bit disenchanted. I guess I was rooting for Stephen. Sigh. I found the book to have the flavor of "Pride and Prejudice" and really enjoyed most of it. I just thought the ending was unsatisfying.
Rating: 4.00
Posted by Framed at 7:18 PM

Cassie said...
I felt the same way.
11/09/2007 8:33 AM
Booklogged said...
Oh, darn. I've been wanting to read this for a long time, too. Sorry to hear it was disappointing.
11/09/2007 2:03 PM
Nymeth said...
I really look forward to reading this one. It's too bad the ending was disappointing. But it sounds worthwhile all the same.
11/09/2007 3:21 PM
Melanie said...
I actually loved the ambiguity of the ending. Early in the book Cassandra says that she likes books in which there are some loose ends, so that you keep wondering about the characters after the book is over. I wondered if that was really the author's opinion of a good book, considering the ending of this one!
11/15/2007 5:40 PM
Shelley said...
I very recently read this and was rooting for Stephen too! I would link you to my review, but I don't know how!


Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I read this book for the 2nd's Challenge. It continues the story of Clair Randall who mistakenly falls through a time portal in Scotland two hundred years earlier. This book tells us the story through Claire's words as she relates her experiences to her daughter and a friend in 1970's Edinburgh. Again, it is a great romantic love story. Most of the time, the bond between Claire and the Scottish laird, Jamie Fraser, is beautiful and believable. There were times when it did get a bit treacly, and I skipped the sex scenes. As in the first book, Jamie seemed too good to be true especially for a 22-year-old Scots who was raised in a much cruder and male-dominated society. Still, Gabaldon conveys a good sense of the way people lived in 18th century Paris and Scotland. All in all, it was a fun travel through time.
Rating: 4
Posted by Framed at 9:10 PM

Cassie said...
I don't know when but I will read this series some day. The books are somewhat daunting looking but if it's got romance then I am all in for that.
11/07/2007 9:28 AM
Carrie K said...
I enjoyed the series but DG seems to have abandoned Claire & Jamie. When she finishes the series, I'll read the last few books.
11/07/2007 1:27 PM
Booklogged said...
Treacly - that's going to be one of my new words. Jamie does seem too good to be true, I guess that's why he's such a dream. They are quite the hefty books, aren't they? I have book 4 but who knows when I'll get to it.
11/07/2007 2:34 PM
gautami tripathy said...
I have this book somewhere. All lost and forgotten. Yet to read. Now I will search for it and read. Thanks for your review!

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Jeeves in the Morning by P G Wodehouse

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Last spring I asked for suggestions of humorous books to read; and Tristi Pinkston recommended this one. I'm so glad she did. There were some laugh-out-loud moments while I was reading; and, like sometimes while watching British comedy, a sense of irritation at the slapstickishness (New Word Alert). However, I keep revisiting scenes in my mind and chuckling over them. Just like I need a dictionary for Australian slang, I find It would be nice to have one for English slang as well. What on earth does "bung a spanner" mean? or "gas and gaiters?" Jeeves, of course, is the epitome of the "veddy proper" British manservant and is famous for his knowledge and gift of solving every dilemna. His employer, Bertie Wooster, is charming, aristocratic, vaguely cowardly, and totally inept. He reminds me of Melrose Plant of the Richard Jury series. And the young Boy Scout, Edwin, cracked me up. As I read, I kept picturing the story being played out on PBS. I wonder if I will be disappointed when I finally get around to watching it. I will definitely pick up Wodehouse any time I need a quick giggle.
Rating: 3.75

Posted by Framed at 7:49 PM

GeraniumCat said...
Not sure about the context of "bung a spanner" here, but if you say someone has "bunged a spanner in the works" it means they have done the equivalent of throwing a large piece of unyielding metal in the working parts of an engine, thereby causing considerable disruption.
Senior Church of England clergymen used to wear gaiters - they were made of black cloth and buttoned to the knee (they wore breeches with them). So "all gas and gaiters" referred to the tendency to excessive wordiness of these individuals.

Any more? :)

10/26/2007 3:51 AM
Framed said...
Thanks, Geraniumcat. I checked the context and it was "bung a spanner in the works." Now it makes perfect sense. I couldn't find "gas and gaiters", but there were some characters in the book that definitely fit this description.

10/26/2007 7:57 AM
Cassie said...
Sounds interesting and I rarely come across funny books. Everyone is so serious these days. Is this a series? If not, then I may add it to my list.

10/26/2007 8:56 AM
Tristi Pinkston said...
I'm so glad you liked it, Framed!

10/26/2007 4:11 PM
Booklogged said...
Sounds good. I had the same problem with English slang when reading Spot of Bother. Unfortunately, I didn't mark any of the phrases. Bung a spanner in the works is a great phrase and one I could use often.

10/26/2007 9:11 PM
Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...
Tristi is a great one for recommending books. Framed, if you ever want to review one of my books, let me know and I'll email you a copy.

10/28/2007 7:01 AM
gautami tripathy said...
I love Wodehouse any time. He was a prolific writer and there are lot many books to read.

I even own 6 of his rare books.

This I read long time back. I think I will read it again.

10/29/2007 7:45 AM
SuziQoregon said...
This sounds fun. I've never read any of Wodehouse's books. Maybe I can work one into the Decades Challenge for 2008.

10/29/2007 9:47 PM
Bookfool said...
I love, love, love Wodehouse. And, there are actually British slang books available. I've got a British English/American English dictionary and a couple of other books about the language differences (all of which have been helpful, although there's nothing like having an English friend to "translate").

You will soooo not be disappointed in the series. It's hilarious. Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry were perfect in the roles of Wooster and Jeeves. The only annoyance was that they changed some of the actors, from season to season. Madeleine (the woman who says goofy things like, "The stars are God's daisy chain") was played by three different actresses. Ugh. But, fortunately, Fry and Laurie were consistent as Jeeves and Wooster and they were the most important characters.

10/29/2007 10:06 PM
gautami tripathy said...
I received crow lake by mary lawson and finished reading too. I really like it. Thanks!

10/30/2007 10:17 AM
Framed said...
Cassie, it is a series but I think they can be enjoyed on an individual basis. This isn't the first in the series and I didn't feel like I missing something. Better yet, let's get the series and watch it together.

Tristi, thanks for the recommend.

Booklogged, can you say "bung a spanner in the works" with an British accent. I don't think it will work otherwise.

Candace, I would love to review one of your books. However, my computer is so slow that I would never try to download a book.

Gautami, Wow, you got the book so quickly. And read it already. I haven't even opened my copy yet. I'll be visting to read the review.

SusieQ, great choice for the Decades Challenge. Maybe I should add Jeeves to my Decades list.

Bookfool, I really want to watch the series. Sounds hilarious.

10/30/2007 4:28 PM

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I couldn't believe it when I started this book. It's another stark, bleak, dark novel with a choppy narrative. Is this the writing of the future? The first two pages contain these gargantuan sentences that fill an entire long paragraph. I couldn't make heads or tails of what was being said. And most of the book is dialogue. Jeez. You would think I really hated this book, wouldn't you? Nada! John Grady Cole is such an interesting and intense character. At the age of sixteen, he and his friend, Rawlins, ride their horses down to Mexico to make a living. Just before crossing the border, they run into Blevins, a thirteen-year-old boy riding a gorgeous bay. Letting Blevins tag along is the worst mistake of many they make while in Mexico. And John Grady is such a capable old soul that I keep forgetting he is only sixteen. In fact, you have to suspend belief a little to think a boy his age would survive all his experiences. Even though this is not my favorite style of writing, McCarthy pulls you into the story. I felt the grit in my teeth as the three boys ride across the Mexican desert. My muscles ached after John and Rawlins spend three days breaking sixteen horses. The despair was real when John is pulled away from his love, Alejandra, and sent to a Mexican prison. And I felt the romance of horses that I knew when I was ten. "The old man shaped his mouth how to answer. Finally he said that among men there no such communion as among horses and the notion that men can be understood at all was probably an illusion. Rawlins asked him in his bad spanish if there was a heaven for horses but he shook his head and said that a horse had no need of heaven. Finally John Grady asked him if it were not true that should all horses vanish from the face of the earth the soul of the horse would not also perish for there would be nothing to replenish it but the old man only said that it was pointless to speak of there being no horses in the world for God would not permit such a thing." I can understand why "All the Pretty Horses" was a National Book Award winner. I have another book by McCarthy that, at one point, I wasn't sure I would read, but now I'm sure I will. The book has also been made into a movie with Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz which I think I will try to see. Is it any good? A few complaints: There were too many dialogues in Spanish that I didn't understand and the punctuation or lack of it made me a little crazy. It's don't not dont. And the too-long sentences.
Rating: 4
Posted by Framed at 6:51 PM

Literary Feline said...
I haven't yet read a book by this author, but I do have a couple of his books in my TBR collection. I've heard such great things about him recently. Maybe if I like the two books of his I have, I'll try this one. Your comment about feeling the grit between your teeth, is very promising, even with the flaws. Thanks for the review!
10/23/2007 11:11 PM
Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...
I think this is the style of his writing - The Road is the same but does have good punctuation. :)
10/24/2007 7:29 AM
Cassie said...
i saw the movie a while ago so I don't really remember it but Matt Damon was good in it and I think it was sad.
10/24/2007 8:21 AM
Jeane said...
I actually have seen this book on shelves many times and always passed it up. You've made it sound so interesting I'm putting it on my TBR.
10/24/2007 2:35 PM
Les said...
I loved this book when I read it a few years ago. I thought it was beautiful/lyrical and was pleasantly surprised, as I wasn't expecting to like it so well. I remember that the untranslated Spanish was a bit bothersome, although I was able to figure some of it out by the context. Funny, I don't remember the punctuation (or lack thereof) problem. Maybe I was used to it having recently read Plainsong (Kent Haruf).
10/24/2007 3:25 PM
Booklogged said...
I've never been tempted to read McCarthy even with his awards. I may have to reconsider after that great review. Or maybe not, because I have so many books already sitting around wanting to be read. Sigh...
10/24/2007 7:00 PM
Joy said...
I'm interested in reading another McCarthy, but it's not this one. (Can't remember the title right now.) Although, I'm glad to know that this one is good, too.
10/25/2007 6:16 AM
Framed said...
Maybe I exaggerated the punctuation. I do know that the word don't was never printed with an apostrophe. Funny how such a little thing can bug you. I discovered I have two other McCarthy books on my TBR list.
10/25/2007 7:43 PM
hellomelissa said...
i actually liked the film more than the book. that's rare!
10/27/2007 3:04 PM
Carrie K said...
I saw and liked the movie despite Penelope Cruz (I hate her quite unreasonably) but picked up the book hoping it would explain the movie. It didn't, but they did lift huge passages verbatim from the book, which I found oddly heartening.
10/30/2007 6:27 PM
Lotus Reads said...
Hi, Framed!What Melissa said. I, too, preferred the movie over the book. The soundtrack is absolutely wonderful too!


The Bridge to Terabithea by Kate Paterson

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I can't believe I have never read Katherine Paterson before now. She writes so wonderfully and captures the joy and angst of the pre-teen years so well. I imagine everyone has read this story or seen the movie (except me) so I won't tell it again. I'll just say that it's a beautiful tale for young adults. I read it quickly but was thoroughly entertained and touched by it. And surprised. I had seen trailers for the movie and now I'm glad that I read the book first. It was not at all what I had expected. And the ending . . . well, if you haven't read it, I don't want to give it away. It was very unexpected. I will gladly add this to my collection of books that I can't wait to share with my grandchildren someday. I think I've been most impressed with the Newbery books that I've read for the Book Award Challenge than any of the others. Maybe I'm still a kid at heart myself.
Rating: 5
Posted by Framed at 6:27 PM

3M said...
I love this book as well.
10/21/2007 8:02 PM
Booklogged said...
I read this one years ago and really liked it. When the trailers came on tv I began to wonder if I had the right story in mind. So I reread it and then watched the movie. The movie was good, but the book was better, I thought.
10/21/2007 10:24 PM
Nymeth said...
I read this for the first time a few months ago and I agree with everything you said.
10/22/2007 10:25 AM
Bellezza said...
I've picked this up, and laid it down, so many times I can't remember. Knowing that this book is sad, sad, sad keeps me from fully experiencing it, which I know is just plain ignorant. Someday I hope to finish it...
10/22/2007 3:07 PM
Literary Feline said...
I hope to get to this one before the year is out, but I have my doubts. :-) I am glad you enjoyed it so much. I read another of the author's books years and years ago. I really liked it and still have the copy on my shelf to this day.
10/22/2007 9:39 PM
Stephanie said...
It's so funny you mentioned the trailer in your review. I just read this and reviewed it about a week ago. I had actually seen the movie, although the ending surprised me in the movie. I thought the trailers were so misleading. People that saw them could pick up the book thinking it was high fantasy...and it just wasn't. But it was a fantastic book!
10/23/2007 1:54 PM
Tristi Pinkston said...
"Come Sing Jimmy Jo" by the same author was also very good.
10/26/2007 4:11 PM
michelle said...
I thought the trailers were misleading as well. The book was wonderful though! Glad you enjoyed it.


The Sea by John Banville

Sunday, October 21, 2007

"The Sea" is a short book (195 pages) and takes place mostly in a seaside resort in Ireland. The narrator, Max Morden, returns to the Cedars and reminisces about his childhood vacation there, his meeting with his wife and her death. I was very disappointed in this novel. Banville overuses highbrow words which I didn't even feel like looking up in the dictionary. They just didn't seem that appealing. He draws analogies constantly some of which I found to be dead on and others making no sense to me at all. Almost every description, analogy and character is negative, unpleasant or sad. "My life seemed to be passing before me, not in a flash as it is said to do for those about to drown, but in a sort of leisurely convulsion, emptying itself of its secrets and its quotidian mysteries in preparation for the moment when I must step into the black boat on the shadowed river with the coin of passage cold in my already coldening hand." Wonderful analogy this time, but how dark can you get? Even the descriptions of the Irish seaside were disparaging. While this was touted as a book about grief, mortality, death, childhood and memory, I found Banville's elegant and precise prose to be too exact, the book more about the words he wrote than about the feelings he was trying to convey. He jumps from memory to memory, from present to distant past to recent past in a way that took me most of the book to catch on to. In fairness, I am going to share a passage about a storm that I thought was very powerful: "I enjoyed it outrageously, sitting up in my ornate bed as on a catafalque, if that is the word I want, the room aflicker around me and the sky stamping up and down in a fury, breaking its bones. At last, I thought, at last the elements have a pitch of magnificence to match my inner turmoil! I felt transfigured, I felt like one of Wagner's demi-gods, aloft on clashes of celestial cymbals. In this mood of histrionic euphoria, fizzing with brandy-fumes and static, I considered my position in a new and crepitant light." For such a short book and a winner of the Man Booker Prize, it took almost a week to read because I really had to force myself to it. I acknowledge that I am not a fan of the dark, depressing and overly cerebral novel. Obviously others are and this may be the perfect book for them. However, I don't plan on reading any more books by this author.
Rating: 1.5
Posted by Framed at 1:15 AM

Booklogged said...
Beautiful passages, but I would hate to read a whole book like that. Very cerebral. I'm glad you shared the one about the storm because that's an awesome passage. It's refreshing to read a review and not feel compelled to add the book to my list. Thanks, Framed.
10/21/2007 5:14 PM
Stephanie said...
I can't agree with you more. I HATED this book!!


Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Cloudstreet" is a book that I purchased at least a year ago and hadn't gotten around to yet. When I saw that it matched the criteria for three of the challenges I had entered, I decided this was a great time to read it.
Unread Authors Challenge I had never even heard of Tim Winton before I picked this book up. His writing is such a turn-about from the last book I read (The Story Girl) that I had a difficult time with it. L M Montgomery has this wonderful, flowing, flowery, descriptive prose while Winton writes in a stark, abrupt, choppy manner. The book contains a lot of dialogue without the standard punctuation (absolutely no quotation marks). Montgomery's book is filled with innocence, naivete, familial affection, and imagination. There is very little innocence or naivete in any of Winton's characters. In fact, they are wise and cynical. It highlights family dysfunction, but is no less imaginative even though it takes a completely different tack. Because of the three challenges, I was determined to plow through the book even though I was disillusioned at the first. Somewhere along the line though, I got caught in the cadence of Winton's writing and the sad story of his characters. Then I found it be well-written and compelling.
Armchair Traveler Challenge This book is set in western Australia, mostly in the city of Perth. It was certainly not written for the purpose of attracting visitors to that part of the world as the setting is almost as bleak as the story. And I had a hard time understanding the Australian dialect. Carn, bonzer, orright, cod my wallop, are just some examples. Some I never did figure out. In a way, it was fun trying to figure out what was going on.
Book Award Challenge "Cloudstreet" won the Miles Franklin Award. I have never heard of this award so I'm not sure what it's criteria is. But like many award-winning books, it does not tell a pretty tale. It is a saga of two completely different families: The Pickles, an alcoholic mother, gambling father, anorexic daughter and two odd bothers; and the Lambs, a large, noisy family, with an emotionally distant, hardworking and intense mother, an easy-going father, three sisters and three brothers, whose existance revolves around the handicapped brother and the accident that caused his handicap. These two disparate families come to inhabit the same large haunted home, and the book follows their lives over the course of twenty years. Even though it was rough going, the book eventually captured my attention as the families grow and come together and find their love for each other even if they fight that love all the way. By the time, I finished the book, I had become involved with the characters and the story. I can see why it would have won an award.
I really only liked two characters: Quick Lamb and his father, Lester, but Winton took you into the mind of several characters so you knew them and understood them, even though I could never quite understand some of their self-destructive antics.
I'm glad I read the book. It was interesting and very different from most of the books I read. Quite a look into human nature from a dark point of view. I probably would have liked it better if I had read it after another darker novel like "The Ambidextrist." As is, I can't say I enjoyed the experience very much.
Rating: 3.75
Posted by Framed at 10:42 PM

Cassie said...
Sounds a little like something I might like to read, only because I love dark but I'll probably pass on this one.
10/18/2007 9:31 AM
Bookfool said...
You need a Dinkum Dictionary. There is so much incomprehensible slang in Australian books that I bought myself a book to translate! I've only read a couple of the Miles Franklin award winners, but I enjoyed them. I think I just love the setting. Australia's way up there on the top of my wish list of places to go.
10/18/2007 7:29 PM
Booklogged said...
I think I can pass on this one, too. The Dinkum Dictionary sounds good, tho.
10/18/2007 10:01 PM
gautami tripathy said...
Thanks for the review. I do go for dark books...But not horror genre..:D
10/19/2007 11:17 PM
Framed said...
Gautami, I wouldn't call put this book in the horror genre. A ghost appears in maybe two paragraphs. It was an odd inclusion having very little to do with the story. It's appearance causes an accident which could have happened from any number of catalysts. Really odd.


The Story Girl by L M Montgomery

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I recently learned that the book I read for the 1910's decade, "A Tangled Web," by Ms. Montgomery, was actually published in the 1930's. To be true to this challenge, I quickly found another Montgomery masterpiece. "The Story Girl" has the same flavor and magic as the "Anne of Green Gable" series, and Sara Stanley (the title character) is every bit as memorable and endearing. Her voice is fantastic: "If voices had colour, hers would have been a rainbow. It made words live." Her stories can make the listener cry, laugh, or shiver in terror. Montgomery shares many of her stories interspersed amongst this tale of eight children spending an idyllic life on Prince Edward Island. It's an enchanting story of a time and place I wish I could have experienced. As always, the author paints beauty, innocence, humor and charm in the pages of this delightful novel. I marked so many passages, but will just share a few:
"Harvest was ended; and though summer was not yet gone, her face was turned westering. The asters lettered her retreating footsteps in a purple script, and over the hills and valleys hung a faint blue smoke, as if Nature were worshipping at her woodland altar. The apples began to burn red on the bending boughs; crickets sang day and night; squirrels chattered secrets of Polichinelle in the spruces; the sunshine was as thick and yellow as molten gold; school opened, and we small denizens of the hill fams lived happy days of harmless work and necessary play, closing in nights of peaceful, undisturbed slumber under a roof watched over by autumnal stars."
"She loved expressive words, and treasured them as some girls might have treasured jewels. To her, they were as lustrous pearls, threaded on the crimson cord of a vivid fancy. When she met a new one, she uttered it over and over to herself in solitude, weighing it, caressing it, infusing it with the radiance of her voice, making it her own in all its possibilities for ever.
"Even skeptical Dan prayed, his skepticism falling away from him like a discarded garment in this valley of the shadow, which sifts out hearts and tries souls, until we all, grown-up or children, realize our weakness, and , finding that our own puny strength is as a reed shaken in the wind, creep back humbly to the God we have vainly dreamed we would do without."
"The dusk crept into the orchard like a dim, bewitching personality. You could see her--feel her--hear her. She tiptoed softly from tree to tree, every drawing nearer. Presently her filmy wings hovered over us and through them gleamed the early stars of the autumn night."
I did not originally list this on my Canadian Challenge for Prince Edward Island, but I'm including it anyway. I like to think of it as a good representation of that place even though I've never been there. (Maybe someday).
I just learned that there are several books in this series so I am going to try to read more of them in the future. I just love Mongtomgery's books.
Rating: 5
Posted by Framed at 9:07 PM

Joy said...
Oh! I had this as my 1910's choice for the Decades Challenge 2008, but decided to read Anne of Green Gables for 1900's and didn't want to read the same author, so I chose something else. However...I'm glad to know it's a winner! I will save it for another time. :)
10/12/2007 5:26 AM
raidergirl3 said...
I always like when people enjoy LM's stories. I read some darker short stories for the RIP challenge.Let me know if you are coming to PEI - booklogged and I and her husband met for chowder and a great visit. It really is beautiful here, but don't cme in January. It's still beautiful, but green is so much nicer than white.
10/12/2007 3:16 PM
Booklogged said...
What a wonderful title. And a rating of 5. Are you going to put this on your mooch inventory?
10/14/2007 8:10 PM
Framed said...
It was on my bookmooch list along with the sequel and then I read it again. I must have been crazy. This is too good a book to give away. But maybe we can work something out on the side.
10/15/2007 11:36 PM
John Mutford said...
I'd never heard of this book before. Thanks for sharing!
11/18/2007 11:29 PM
Court said...
I just love Montgomery's books too. :) Happy to hear you enjoyed this book, it's positively adorable, as is the sequel.


The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and of what a Man's resolution can achieve."
So begins Collins' popular novel written in the nineteenth century involving mistken identities, asylums, abductions, amnesia, illness, love, hate, greed, and generosity. Like "The Moonstone," "Woman" involves a large cast of interesting characters who can inspire, invoke laughter, make your lip curl or just irritate you to death. It also tells the tale through a variety of narrators who each contribute their own take on the very involved plot. Walter Hartright, the first narrator, begins his employ as a drawing master for two wealthy young women at Limmeridge, their country estate. Of course, he falls in love with one, is totally unsuitable and she is engaged to another, so he leaves the country. Before coming to Limmeridge, Walter encounters a young woman who has just escaped from an insane asylum. Her uncanny resemblance to the lovely Laura causes a wonderful twist in the story. The marriage between Laura and the charming but sneaky (think Snidely Whiplash) Sir Percival takes place, leaving Marian, the faithful but homely sister behind during the honeymoon. Six months later, the sisters reunite as the honeymooner return home bringing in tow Count and Countess Fosco. I love the characterization of Fosco, who is grossly fat, incredibly charming, intelligent, and manipulative. His voice is mesmerizing and, despite his wide girth, he moves in total silence, often catching people completely unawares. His total influence over Sir Percival and The Countess is very scary. Fosco and Percival are both deeply in debt, and Laura possesses a large fortune. Need I say more? While I didn't enjoy this book as much as "The Moonstone," it was still a very fun read although not terribly spooky. It did have a fair share of intrigue and sinister maneuvering; and Count Fosco is a terrific villain. He is also the most intelligent character in the story as evidenced by the fact that he is completely enamoured with Marian. Marian is described as having a beautiful, graceful body, with lovely white hands, but an ugly face. Even so, she is the most sensible, selfless, courageous and, most importantly, interesting woman in the book; and only Fosco falls in love with her. I know Laura is beautiful, but she is so insipid and sniveling compared to Marian who has fire and personality. It's too bad that she is destined to be the auntie all her life. Isn't there a man (okay, a good, honest man) to love and appreciate her? Aside from this quibbling, Collins writes magnificently. His prose is very evocative of the nineteenth century, and he employs so much humor in the right places and suspense in others.
This is also my first book read for the 2nds Challenge. About time I got going on that one.
Rating: 4.25
Posted by Framed at 10:24 PM

SuziQoregon said...
I have to confess - I skipped most of your post because I'll be starting this book myself later this week. I scrolled on down to see the rating and I can't wait to read this one. It'll be my final RIP II book too.
10/10/2007 8:36 AM
Booklogged said...
Glad to hear you liked Woman in White. I'm just curious if you enjoyed this one more, less or about the same as The Moonstone? Congrats on finishing the challenge. One down, eight hundred 63 more to go, right?!
10/10/2007 5:54 PM
Literary Feline said...
Congratulations on completing the challenged, Framed! I hope to read The Woman in White one day. Thank you for another great review!
10/10/2007 9:49 PM
Framed said...
SuzieQ, that was wise. I probably gave away more in this review than I like to.Booklogged, I liked Moonsstone better.Wendy, Thanks. It's a fun book to read. I've not read a bad review of it yet.
10/10/2007 10:22 PM
Framed said...
Did I date myself with the Snidely Whiplash comment. It will be interesting to see if anyone recognizes him.
10/10/2007 10:25 PM
Nymeth said...
I've been meaning to read either this or "The Moonstone" one day. I suppose I'll start with "The Moonstone", but this one sounds intriguing as well!
10/11/2007 3:30 AM
gautami tripathy said...
I have wanted to read this for sometime now. I have not read any of her books!Thanks for the review.
10/13/2007 7:56 AM
Heidi said...
I loved Woman in White when I first read it years ago. I agree with you about Marian and Laura. She was definitely the better woman!Moonstone was excellent as well. I think I enjoyed it even more because of the butler's narration...the story had more personality. Great books!
10/13/2007 9:26 AM
3M said...
Looks like I might have to get to The Moonstone sometime.


The Ghost Writer by John Harwood

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I acquired this novel from Bookmooch after reading some glowing reviews of it. It follows the growing up of Gerald Freeman, who lives in Australia with his weird, over-protective mother and a detached father who plays with trains. In his early adolescence, Gerald begins a correpsondence with penpal, Alice Jesell, a handicapped girl about the same age. It's a strange coincidence that the orphange and nursing facility where Alice lives closely resembles Staplefield, the home where Gerald's mother grew up and which he has dreamed about and longed to see for years. I found the quickly budding sexual content in the letters between the two to be very creepy, not scary creepy, just disturbing. And I found it odd how Alice was able to control Gerard so completely through her letters. Eventually, Gerald travels to England to meet Alice and also to see his mother's childhood home. There are stories within this story, as, through his life, Gerald comes across ghost stories written by his grandmother which foreshadow so many later happenings. I just didn't care for this novel. I thought it was confusing. the characters unappealing, and the ending abrupt. It did have a great deal of suspense, and the old English house was a great setting for horror, but I found myself not caring if Gerard was in danger or not.
Rating: 2
Posted by Framed at 9:06 PM

Cassie said...
Too bad you didn't like it. Wow, you are getting through this challenge really fast. Good job!
10/05/2007 8:33 AM
Kristina said...
I read this book awhile back and found myself so excited to read it. Once I got to the end, I was so mad that I'd even wasted my I agree with you, didn't care for it.
10/05/2007 9:45 AM
Literary Feline said...
I am sorry you didn't care for this one, Framed. I'm one of those who really liked it. Gerard wasn't my favorite character, but I liked the book for so many other reasons that my opinion of Gerard didn't really matter all that much in the end.
10/06/2007 12:07 AM
Booklogged said...
I was feeling sad that I didn't get to the mooch in time to get this book from you. Now I'm glad.
10/06/2007 3:38 PM
J.S. Peyton said...
Oy, I've been thinking about reading this one too. Now I think I just might pass...
10/11/2007 8:09 AM
Bookfool said...
What perfect timing. I had put this one on my wish list and decided I was uncertain about it when it came up for grabs at PBS. After some thought, I decided that I didn't want to spend one of my few remaining credits on a book that I wasn't gung ho about; I only had three credits left and two books became available at once - I chose to go with Eat, Pray, Love, which has been on my wish list for over a year, and turn The Ghost Writer down. I'm really kind of happy to see a negative review, after that decision!! But, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it. I always hate it when I close a book and think, "Oh, wow. Why did I waste my time?"

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