Friday, August 28, 2009

The Actor and the Housewife

I'll admit it. When I started reading this book, I was determined to dislike it. I really wanted to hate it. I read many reviews (even the ones full of spoilers) trying to decide if I wanted to read it in the first place. See, the problem is that I have loved every book Shannon Hale has ever published, but I heartily disagree with the subject matter in this book. It's about a mormon housewife (stay-at-home mom, 3 going on 4 kids) who meets her favorite British movie heartthrob while she's in LA selling a screenplay and becomes best friends with him. I mean best friends. Talk on the phone constantly, plan weekend trips to hang out (spouses included), etc...

I'm not going to give a lecture on this blog, but I just have to say this: I think it's wrong to have a best friend of the opposite gender when you are married. I won't get started, or this blog will get too long. Just wanted to get that out here up front.

That said, let's get back to how I wanted to hate this book. Problem is, I couldn't. Shannon Hale is literary magic, and I couldn't help laughing out loud. Several times. And crying. And what surprised me is that by the end, looking back on the journey Becky had gone through, I felt like she never was unfaithful to her husband. She always put him and her children first. Especially when it mattered. And it even seemed that, for Becky's personal story, Felix (that's the Actor) being involved in her life was the right thing at the right time. I feel like I'm being pretty cryptic here, but there are some major spoilers I'm trying to avoid. Hopefully I'm not botching it here.

Anyway, The Actor and the Housewife is not for every Shannon fan. I know many who have read it and found themselves asking, "Why Shannon, why???" I don't even know if I can tell you definitively whether or not I liked it. It was thought provoking, but I don't feel like I can gush about it and recommend it to all of my friends. I do, however, respect Shannon Hale as an author for being brave enough to write this book when she must have known how many of her fans would dislike it.


I loved Wings. Loved it so much that when I finished it I couldn't bear to close it, so I went back and read all my favorite parts again. Wings is about a young girl who discovers she's a faerie (and isn't faerie a much lovelier spelling than fairy?), much to her chagrin. She's been raised by a human family is just a bit shocked when she discovers her vast responsibility to protect one of the gates into the secret faerie realm, Avalon. This book is filled with magic, trolls, Sprite, biology, memory potions, and a hearty dose of romance. And forget everything you've ever heard about faeries. Aprilynne Pike has reinvented them in this freshly original and deeply detailed fantasy.

The Black Circle

I mentioned not too long ago that I was now hooked on this series. Let's just say that Book 5 has done nothing to cure my new addiction. Can this series keep getting better with every book? I certainly hope so. This time, Amy and Dan are off to Russia. And aside from saying that they face the most fierce danger they've seen yet and uncover what is likely the most pivotal secret in the series, I can say very little without spoilerizing (Is that a word? I guess it is now :D) you for the first 4 books in the series. Bring on Book 6! In Too Deep... coming out November 3rd.

Spindle's End

Robin McKinley is the queen of fairy-tale retellings (I think I've already said that on this blog...). Spindle's End (a retelling of Sleeping Beauty) is a must read for the fairy-tale enthusiast. Just like Beauty, Spindle's End delivers with its beautifully described world and compelling heroine. No, Rosie is no Disney princess, but maybe that's why I loved her so much. :D Aside from that, Robin McKinley is probably the only author I know who can add so many details to her stories without bogging down the plot. This book is pure magic.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Princess of the Midnight Ball

What can I say? Princess of the Midnight Ball is my kind of book. I absolutely loved it! It was so beautifully written. This book is a retelling of the story of the twelve dancing princesses, and I just ate it up. It is my favorite Jessica Day George book yet (serious praise, considering my love of Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow). Perfect, perfect, perfect. Go read it.

Beyond the Grave

I know I've been lukewarm on 39 Clues books in the past, but they haven't been much to brag about. Until now. I've no doubt that the credit goes to Rick Riordan (who wrote the overall story arc of this series) for the increasingly interesting and suspensful plot twists introduced in this book. I've always loved the mix of history, fiction, mystery, and travel in this series, and now I think I'm hooked. There are 6 more books to go (one being released every three months) and I'm ready, waiting, and excited to read them all.

Storm Glass

I just have to say, that while I enjoyed Magic Study and Fire Study, as well as Storm Glass here, that none of Maria V. Snyder's books have been as compelling or as interesting as her first book, Poison Study. I keep reading her books, trying to find that same spark that was in Poison Study and coming up empty. Very frustrating.

Fire Study saw the end of Yelena's story, so the heroine of Storm Glass is Opal (those who've read the Study books know who Opal is). I thought the change of heroine was refreshing, but like I said earlier, nothing quite like the first book is found here. What it lacks is almost made up by the various descriptions of and forays into the world of glassmaking, which I find fascinating. This book is just interesting enough (and ends on just enough of a cliffhanger) that I'm looking forward to picking up its sequel (from the library, of course), Sea Glass, when it comes out in September.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Little Dorrit

I love Charles Dickens! It's taken me all of August so far to read this book (being 855 pages) but it's been very much worth it. Of course, I watched the Masterpiece Theater version of this book earlier in the year, and I've been wanting to read it ever since. I got the book and the movie for my birthday and have been happily devouring both bit by bit ever since. This is not one of Dickens' better known stories, but I think it might be my favorite now (or maybe it's tied with David Copperfield, I can't decide). Dickens delivers on the depth of his characters. I felt like I absolutely knew Amy Dorrit and that we were bosom friends (as Anne would say). I laughed aloud several times at the hilarity of the various comic characters, and cried heartily during the more emotionally charged moments. I've rarely felt so much a part of the story. Maybe it's the way Dickens weaves his characters together, everyone affecting each other no matter their class or background, that makes me feel like I could walk right into the pages and be important. And maybe that's part of the magic of Dickens, that he reminds us how important each individual on this planet is. Whatever it is, I'll be back for more. I intend to read every book he's ever written. Someday. Hopefully soon.

Better than Twilight?

Yeah...I thought that would get your attention.

But I think I have to disagree with the reviewers (of which there were several, surprisingly) who claimed that The Hourglass Door was a better read than Twilight. I enjoyed this book just fine, but for many reasons I just think it doesn't compare. I also think it's a bit of a copycat book. Here we have a high school student who meets a devastatingly handsome and mysterious guy who is clearly different from the rest of his classmates. Then of course, her love for said mysterious guy draws her into a dangerous world and various adventures ensue. Sound familiar? Other than that, though, it wasn't bad. I love the first chapter, but felt it was a little slow until the last quarter of the book or so. I love time travel stories, so that element definitely boosted the story for me. I think one of the reasons people have loved this book is because of the male protagonist, Dante. I myself am not necessarily one to be swept off my feet by a bit of whispered Italian. That said, this book was well written with a few fascinating original plot elements; but, alas, it was no match for Stephenie Meyer's engrossing and vibrant world.