October 23, 2009

Friday Finds



I am now including in my FF posts the reason each blogger persuaded me to add this book to my list. What in the review makes me want to read the book? Sometimes it is just the first time I have seen the book or it is from In Your Mailbox posts and the book's blurb intrigues me. Often times it is something that the blogger has mentioned in the review. Or both. So under each book title is a blurb from the blogger's post that helped seal the deal for me (Book summaries/blurbs in bold italics, blogger comments in plain italics.)

So who is responsible for the towering mountain of books this week, er, month?

Andreea @ Passionate Booklover:
The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan

I really loved this book, since Gwenni is such a sympathetic character. Her own family and other village people think that she is odd, but she is just a curious young girl with a vivid imagination. She is very clever and just tries to understand everything that happens around her. She just wants to understand human behaviour, and therefore, she asks many questions. The people around her don’t like her questions, since they have something to hide and they don’t want their secrets revealed. However, Gwenni doesn’t seem to stop investigating until she has found out everything she needs to know! The Earth Hums in B Flat is a wonderful and magical novel full of secrets and mysteries. This book is beautifully written and provides us with an intriguing portrait of life in a small Welsh town!

Rhiannon @ Rhiannon Hart:
Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsey
In 1900, several boarding-schoolgirls go missing. Some are found with no memory of what happened to them, and others are never seen again. It's a very creepy tale and an Australian classic, and one I must get around to reading one of these days.


Heather @ A High and Hidden Place: Tales of a Capricious Reader:
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

I’m just going to go ahead and get the gushing out of the way. OMG, I SO FREAKING LOVED THIS BOOK, IT IS AMAZING AND YOU NEED TO READ IT NOW. NOW! *pant, pant* (Heather cracks me up!) Young Todd Hewitt is the only BOY in a town of MEN. But don’t worry; he’ll be a man, soon, in, like, a month, when he turns THIRTEEN. And, ever since Todd’s people settled into their new settlement, Prentisstown, they were infected with a NOISE germ, which killed all the women and made all the men able to each other’s thoughts.

Yes, it’s crazy, and some of the men are going completely bonkers because of it. In an effort to protect Todd, his male parent type people force Todd to leave Prentisstown with his dog Manchee, the most awesome dog in all of literature. On his way through the swamp that lies between Prentisstown and the rest of the world, he finds something strange. Silence. Absolute, complete silence. It’s a girl. It freaks Todd out.

What follows is an emotional, no-holds-bared, exciting book. This book is well crafted and HARD TO PUT DOWN. I read all 426 pages in like, 24 hours. I did stop to sleep, but that’s about it. There are a few emotional gut-wrenches, including the HORRIBLE THING that happens (read it then call me. We’ll cry together. Great big belly sobs of sorrow). You should have SEEN the emotional hand-holding I got on Twitter when I read this part. (Thanks Chris, Raych and Ana!) Patrick Ness has written a fantastic, hold on to the seat of your pants, gritty adventure dystopian coming-of-age novel. And it works. It all works together SO PERFECTLY. Your knuckles will be white by the end.

Kathy @ Bermudaonion's Weblog:

Tell Me Something True by Leila Cobo

Tell Me Something by Leila Cobo grabbed me from the start and never let go. This book is about relationships and the damage lies can do to them. The story alternates between Gabriella’s viewpoint in the present day and her mother’s viewpoint from the past via her diary, with one short chapter from Gabriella’s grandmother’s viewpoint. I thought Gabriella was a great character and I could really relate to her, even though our lives are nothing alike. I couldn’t put the book down because I had to know what was in the diary and how it was going to affect Gabriella. Gabriella did some things that I didn’t agree with, but I could understand why she made the choices she did. I think anyone who enjoys stories about relationships will enjoy this book.

Ana @ Aneca's World:
Lady of the Roses by Sandra Worth
Lady of the Roses is about Isobel, a young heiress who grows up a ward of the crown – the crown being Queen Margaret of Lancaster – but falls in love with John Neville, a member of the House of York and brother of Warwick the Kingmaker. For a while they looked like star-crossed lovers that wouldn’t be able to overcome the enmity between Lancaster and York but after the Neville family pays a large amount for her Isobel is allowed to marry John. By marrying John Isobel joins one of the most powerful families of the land at the time and through her eyes we see the main political events of the time. Anyone interested in knowing how the Wars of The Roses started has a good explanation here. Although I can’t really vouch for all the details being correct I think the main idea is the right one.


Kay @ Kay's Bookshelf:
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Richard Mayhew is an average Londoner, working in an office, renting a flat, having a girlfriend whom he thought of marrying. One random encounter changes all this: one evening he sees a young girl lying bleeding in the street, and he cannot but take her to his home to care for her. She sends him to find a particular person to help her go back home, and Richard, being the nice guy that he is, complies. The girl leaves, the weekend ends, and on Monday Richard goes back to work. To his complete surprise almost nobody notices him, at work or on the way there, and in the few instances when people do see him everyone takes him for a stranger. It seems like the only way to get back to normal would be to find the girl and ask her to revert whatever had happened to him, to change him back.
I have found quite cool the way the author has chosen to reinterpret the meaning of some of the London tube stations. for example Knightsbridge becomes Night’s Bridge, The Angel, Islington is an actual angel named Islington, Shepherd’s Bush is a place where actual shepherds hang out, and so on. The thing is perhaps all the more interesting when coupled with one of the very first scene, where Richard gives away his tube station map (it was printed on an umbrella, and it was raining) to an old woman who warns him to stay away from doors. I see Richard’s losing the map as a metaphor for the fact that he’ll soon become lost in London Below, and have difficulties finding his way there (as in “of course he had trouble making sense of the underground world since he had no map”).
Between Me and the River by Carrie Host
First sentence: “I hate having to stand by like a stranger in my own life.”

At forty, Carrie Host’s life seemed complete: she had a wonderful loving husband, three beautiful children (aged 13, 11 and 10 months), she was happy with her role as a housewife and mother, and enjoyed hiking with her friends. But all this is about to change all of the sudden: Carrie is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, immune to chemotherapy and necessitating immediate surgery. The blow numbs her at first, and she feels like she is thrown into a raging river with no boat to save her. But she is the survivor type, and step by step her mindset adjusts to her new life and challenges, discovering new dimensions of herself in the process.

And yet, while Carrie’s strength is a defining trait for her, it is not the one I have liked most. That mention goes to a most likely less useful one but the one I very much enjoyed reading about: her artistic side. The fact that, even when she is down, she imagines her life and (possible) future events as short stories or even paintings. The fact that she is the kind that notices the minute details of life, the fact that she encourages her kids to go out there and make life beautiful for themselves. An unexpected trait that one doesn’t often see in books and that I delighted in because of that.

Ti @ Book Chatter and other stuff...
Goldengrove by Francine Prose

At the center of Francine Prose's profoundly moving new novel is a young girl facing the consequences of sudden loss after the death of her sister. As her parents drift toward their own risky consolations, thirteen-year-old Nico is left alone to grope toward understanding and clarity, falling into a seductive, dangerous relationship with her sister's enigmatic boyfriend. Over one haunted summer, Nico must face that life-changing moment when children realize their parents can no longer help them. She learns about the power of art, of time and place, the mystery of loss and recovery. But for all the darkness at the novel's heart, the narrative itself is radiant with the lightness of summer and charged by the restless sexual tension of teenage life.

Francine Prose does a remarkable job of describing what Nico is feeling and although Margaret was not on the page for long, you definitely get a feel for her personality as these characters look back on their moments with her. Many have said that Nico seems older than her thirteen years. This may be true, but to me she came across as an 'old soul' which made her relationship with Aaron a bit easier for me to understand. As Prose takes us through the novel, Nico sees signs that Margaret is still with her. I've always been fascinated by signs. They function as a form of comfort and generally exist to help us through a crisis. Prose does a wonderful job of providing comfort to Nico in the way of signs and whether or not you believe they exist in real life doesn't really matter, because they exist realistically within the novel.

Katrina @ Bloody Bad:
A Match for Mary Bennett by Eucharista Ward
This book was very well written with all the elegance and grace that would make Jane Austen proud. The minor players in Austen's original work are elaborated upon in such a way that you fall in love with them as much as you did with Darcy and Elizabeth. Mary and Georgina both become like your own sisters, thanks to Wards skills. At the same time, she gives us a magical backstory with the Dacry's and the Bingley's living their lives after marriage and guiding their sisters along the right (or wrong) paths. I read this book quickly and happily thanks to the excellent work put into it. There is nothing I would change about this novel.



Shelf Awareness:

The Gigolo Murder by Mehmet Murat Somer
Istanbul’s most fabulously flamboyant sleuth is back in her second hilarious adventure. With its exotic Istanbul setting and racy peeks into the city’s nightlife, The Kiss Murder left readers eager for more of Mehmet Murat Somer’s charmingly original heroine. Software programmer by day and drag-queen club owner by night, our girl is back again, just jilted and feeling so blue she’s violet—until she meets the hunky, married lawyer, Haluk Perkedem. When their conversation is interrupted by a phone call delivering news that his brother-in-law has been arrested for the murder of a notorious gigolo, she decides to put her sleuthing instincts and Thai kickboxing skills to work unraveling the crime. Filled with witty banter and ominous intrigue, mystery fans of all persuasions will find The Gigolo Murder this season’s hottest read.

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for more than forty years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me...and the one who cursed me.

So begins the journal of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore War throp, a man with a most unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. In his time with the doctor, Will has met many a mysterious late-night visitor, and seen things he never imagined were real. But when a grave robber comes calling in the middle of the night with a grueso me find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet. Critically acclaimed author Rick Yancey has written a gothic tour de force that explores the darkest heart of man and monster and asks the question: When does a man become the very thing he hunts?


found @ The Community Bookstore Website:
Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone by Eduardo Galeano and Mark Fried
One of the world's most celebrated writers delivers his most ambitious book to date--an epic history of the human adventure, told backwards, forwards, sideways, through past, present, and future.

Throughout his career, Eduardo Galeano has turned our understanding of history and reality on its head. Isabelle Allende said his works "invade the reader's mind, to persuade him or her to surrender to the charm of his writing and power of his idealism." "Mirrors," Galeano's most ambitious project since "Memory of Fire," is an unofficial history of the world seen through history's unseen, unheard, and forgotten. As Galeano notes: "Official history has it that Vasco Nunez de Balboa was the first man to see, from a summit in Panama, the two oceans at once. Were the people who lived there blind..." Recalling the lives of artists, writers, gods, and visionaries, from the Garden of Eden to twenty-first-century New York, of the black slaves who built the White House and the women erased by men's fears, and told in hundreds of kaleidoscopic vignettes, "Mirrors" is a magic mosaic of our humanity.

Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford
In this "wonderfully funny and very poignant" (Philip Toynbee) autobiography, Mitford offers a fascinating study of the unusual upbringing of her famous family.
"Hons and Rebels" is the hugely entertaining tale of Mitford's upbringing, which was, as she dryly remarks, "not exactly conventional. . . Debo spent silent hours in the chicken house learning to do an exact imitation of the look of pained concentration that comes over a hen's face when it is laying an egg. . . . Unity and I made up a complete language called Boudledidge, unintelligible to any but ourselves, in which we translated various dirty songs (for safe singing in front of the grown-ups)." But Mitford found her family's world as smothering as it was singular and, determined to escape it, she eloped with Esmond Romilly, Churchill's nephew, to go fight in the Spanish Civil War. The ensuing scandal, in which a British destroyer was dispatched to recover the two truants, inspires some of Mitford's funniest, and most pointed, pages.


The "I-can't-remember-where-I-saw-it-first" book:
Mona Lisa Awakening (Monere: Children of the Moon, Book 1) by Sunny
Once readers get past the silly premise of Sunny's sizzling debut—a humanoid race called the Monère came to Earth from the moon 4,000 years ago—they'll find much to like in this intrigue-filled erotic paranormal. The "children of the moon" are ruled by "Queens," rare females whose ability to pull down the moon's rays allows them to heal rapidly and live 300 years. Gorgeous, shape-changing males protect, serve and have sex with the often ruthless Queens, who sometimes cruelly abuse them. After treating one of these males, Gryphon, at Manhattan's St. Vincent's Hospital one night, 21-year-old ER nurse Lisa discovers she's not only a part-human Monère herself but also the first "Mixed Blood" Queen, Mona Lisa. Her human blood makes her impervious to sunlight and silver—the banes of the Monère—and her latent powers pose a threat to the nastier Queens, who want to destroy her. Mona Lisa shares many traits with Laurell K. Hamilton's heroines, including having lots of hot sex for good causes, but mercifully without their kvetching and self-doubt.


There's more, but isn't that enough for today?

11 comments:

  1. I loved Tell Me Something True. It's really great!

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  2. You've got a great list and most of them are on my wish list too. I hope you get to read Tell Me Something True - I really enjoyed it!

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  3. Good idea! I finally created a TBR list that are titles recommended from fellow bloggers because I was seeing so many good ones that I couldn't keep up!

    I've read Neverwhere by Gaiman and really enjoyed it. It's the only one that I have read of his.

    Take care,
    Michelle

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  4. Excellent list! I can vouch for Neverwhere - very very wonderful, and as a shiny bonus, there's a BBC miniseries of it (which came first, actually, I think) that is also pretty great. The guys who play the villains are pitch-perfect, ditto the louche Marquis de Carabas.

    (P.S. That may be the first time I have used the word "louche" in real life. I hope it went okay. :P)

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  5. Neverwhere is a very good read. I loved it!

    Here are my Friday Finds

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  6. I read Goldengrove and thought it was just average for me. I'm glad you liked it so much. I have Tell Me Something True on my coffee table for the read-a-thon this weekend.

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  7. yikes! some really great choices. I admit to have a few on my shelf and others on my wish list from here LOL

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  8. I have some of these on my wishlist and others on my tbr shelves already but it's always interesting to see what piqued someone else's interest in a book too.

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  9. As an Aussie the story of Picnic at Hanging Rock always scares me. It's a great read though.

    So many good books there, especially Neverwhere. <3 Neil Gaiman.

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  10. I LOVED Neverwhere! The ending was kinda dumb, but overall it was really enjoyable. I hope you like it. :)

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  11. That's a lot of finds! KNIFE was a great read. So looking forward to having the time to read the sequel.

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