Monday, June 30, 2008

Good Reads and Bad Seeds

I have been doing A LOT of reading lately. Actually, I bet that I've read about 50 books in the last 6 months or so. I normally read quite a bit, but starting towards the end of my pregnancy (when I was trying to rest) and then continuing one since Juliana was born (I have to do something while she's nursing or I will go insane) I've done more than usual. It does help that I haven't been taking my usual load of classes - until last week when Summer term started - so not so much time for reading anymore. But I thought I would share some of the books I've read and my thoughts about the good, the bad, and of course, the ugly.

OK, so I really didn't read any bad books lately, but I do have one for the UGLY list:
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III - OK, what was Oprah thinking?!? I can see how one might justify this book by saying that it an example of human emotion and circumstances and some other blah-de-dah nonsense, but really what the book is, is bizarre. That is the best word I can find to describe it. Interestingly I think it would adapt into a movie really well, but really the only reason I finished reading it was just to see where the author was taking it. It's basically about 3 complete strangers and how their lives randomly end up completely intertwined and it ends in horrible tragedy - there now you don't even need to read it.

Now onto the good - I don't have a top 10 at the moment, but (sort of) 8 isn't bad. I'll count them down for you:
8. Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordon: This series was recommended to me by my 12 year old neighbor when we happened to be talking about books one day. He was looking for a good read and came over to ask for any suggestions. I'm not sure what he came away with, but he brought me the first book in this series, Lightening Thief, to read and I really enjoyed it. Definitely Harry Potter-esque, but with a Greek mythology twist. A Young Adult book, but still an enjoyable and easy read, especially for anyone needing a Harry Potter fix.

7. The Children of the Red King by Jenny Nimmo: Again, a Harry Potter-esque series, but can hold it's own. I happened upon the first book in this series, Midnight for Charlie Bone, in our apartment complex's freebie bin and was pleasantly surprised. Coming of age, secret powers, good vs. bad, all that usual stuff, but in a new way.

6. Anything by Mary Higgins Clark: I've been reading a lot of her lately and am always impressed. she tells so many different stories, you never really know what to expect, except to know that it will be a good mystery - I never seem to know who did it until it's revealed.

5. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown: Mr Brown is better known for his book The Divinci Code, which is also a fabulous book. Angels and Demons actually occurred first and is the better book, I think. But both were very interesting and very enjoyable to read. Good clean books, both of the treasure hunt nature, but keep you on the edge of your seat.

4. When the Wind Blows by James Patterson: I've actually read quite a few of his books, but this one is the best, in my opinion, for a couple of reasons - first, I really liked the story, not his usual, it actually reminded me of a Dean Koontz novel, but better, and second, there was minimal swearing and only 1 1/2 sex scenes, both of which were tasteful and not too graphically detailed. As much as I like James Patterson, I don't usually recommend his books because of the swearing and the not always family-friendly sex scenes. While I have no problem glossing over these part and reading the book for the big picture, I know that some would prefer not to come across them at all. So - if that describes you, this may be your only chance to read Mr Patterson - I'll let you know if I come across any others.

3. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden: I actually read this book last summer, but it is still on my list of top reads. I'm not usually a history person at all, but I really liked this historical fiction. Some of you may be a little scared away, since it is about geishas and hence one would assume there is sex in it - but that's not really true. What little graphic detail there is is from such an innocent point of view that I didn't find in offensive at all. The world of geishas is completely fascinating to me.

Update 7-2-08: I rented this movie and just finished watching it this morning - SO GOOD! One of the best book to movie adaptations I have seen. It is rated PG-13, and there was one scene that my edited rental place cut out, so I don't know how graphic it was, but other than that - LOVED IT. This is one I would actually recommend reading the book first as there is some information that makes more sense when you already know about the story. However, you could watch the movie and still enjoy it without reading the book as well.

2. The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer: OK - while most of the books I read can be enjoyed equally by both genders, this is one series that I would definitely dub as "chick books". Cameron did read them because I love them so much, but he did not find them as alluring as I did. I originally read the series last summer when I discovered it, passed them on to my sis-in-law and some of her friends, they were recently returned to me and of course I had to read them again. Oh and did I mention that I read them 2 times over the summer? So this was reading #3 for me and I still enjoyed them. Though I found myself leaning more towards Jacob rather than Edward this time - I wonder what that means? I can't wait for the next book to come out in August.

1. Eragon by Christopher Paolini (book 1 in the Inheritance Cycle series): This is one of the best books I've ever read - now that's saying A LOT! And I found out after I read it (in the acknowledgements) that Mr Paolini was a mere teenager when he wrote this! After doing a little bit of research I found out that he was actually 15 when he wrote the first draft in 1998, the book was first published in 2001 and quickly picked up by a bigger company, republished in 2003 and became a bestseller. There is also a movie version of this book - STAY AWAY! It does not do the book justice at all, and has to cut out so much of the book that the story doesn't hardly make any sense. But back to the book - amazing. I really enjoyed it. For those of you who don't know the story - a young farm boy finds a beautiful blue stone, which of course is really a dragon egg, which then hatches and he, the boy, becomes the first dragon rider after a century of the empire being ruled by the last remaining dragon rider, who happens to be evil. Enough said - read the book. It is another Young Adult fiction, but I would recommend it for anyone up for the read.

OK - this post took my waaaaay longer than I thought it would. I hope that some of you benefit from it! And now I have to go read a book that I'm not looking forward to - homework for my World History class. I don't know, maybe I'm judging it a little early, but it sure doesn't sound like fun to me.


Tina said...

Thanks for sharing your list of good reads. I'm always looking for great books to read and am kind of picky, so I appreciate your commentary!!

Tevita and Liz said...

thank you thank you thank you for the reviews!! i can't stand tragic endings (i know, i'm a typical dork like that) and have been looking for some fun summer reads.

bullswife said...

As those who have commented before, I also enjoy "reading recommendations". Sorry about the Sand & Fog book. I sent it to you without reading it myself. I feel that I inflicted the pain upon you! :) Also, the kids LOVED the video you posted. I finally said, "Okay, no MORE!" Thanks again!