Tag: book reviews

Bookends About A Romance

May 20, 2012 Uncategorized 1

Title: I Never Fancied Him Anyway
Author: Claudia Carroll
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Summary: My first foray into chick-flick romance novels, this turned out to be just what I was in the mood for.  Light, but not too cheesy with believable characters; an interesting twist on the typical chick-flick; and of course a happy ending.

After reading the rather depressing classic, The House of Mirth, I needed something light and I Never Fancied Him Anyway was just the thing.  Set in Dublin, I Never Fancied Him Anyway follows Cassandra as she tries to avoid falling for her best friend’s crush although her never-before-wrong psychic abilities tell her he’s the one.  Complicating matters, she is offered a position as a talk show psychic working for her crush.  This situation is made even more awkward when Cassandra realizes that her psychic powers take a vacation whenever her crush is around! Read more »


On Reading Historical Non-Fiction

April 24, 2012 Uncategorized 4

I’ve been putting off really digging into Tycho and Kepler because I’m a little intimidated by it – not a feeling I usually have about books!  I don’t know much history and I’d really like to learn more.  However, as I learned at a “how to be a good TA” lecture, people learn best when they can connect new knowledge to information they already know.  This has been making my first attempt to dig into some historical non-fiction difficult, especially since I’m not happy to just read past things I don’t get.  At risk of sounding completely hopeless, I’m going to give you some of my impressions reading the first paragraph of Tycho and Kepler (my thoughts in Italics):

“On January 11, 1600 (ok, so after the Magna Carta, after Christopher Columbus, before the American Revolution…wow, my knowledge of history is really sparse) the carriage of Baron Johann Friedrich Hoffmann, baron of Grunbuchel and Sterchau (Germany? maybe Denmark, the map at the beginning was of Denmark, but nope these places aren’t on that map) , rumbled out of Graz… Having fulfilled, for the time being, his occasional duties as a member of the Styrian Diet (some sort of ruling council?) in the Austrian (ah, apparently we’re in Austria) provincial capitol, he was returning to court in Prague (hmm, I know that city, but what country is it in…).

I could go on, but you get the idea!  Currently, I think my best bet is just to read with wikipedia open, but if anyone has any other suggestions for a (historically and geographically inept) first-time reader of historical non-fiction, I’d appreciate the advice 🙂


Monday Musings

April 16, 2012 Monday Musings 0

This week the Monday Musings question is the following: What are you currently reading? And, is it better, as good as, or worse than your last read?

I’m currently reading Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher.  My previous read was the Uglies quartet, a YA dystopian series, and was much too different to compare to my current read.  But before that I was reading Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds which is much more comparable.  As you already know from my review of that book, I found it had a good message but the message got lost in a lot of rhetoric and emotion.  Fortunately, Cultivating an Ecological Conscience is the opposite.  Although the author, of course, still has an agenda, all of the essays are clear and measured arguments for the author’s point of view.  The message the author is trying to convey in each essay is always well-supported and the author’s passion doesn’t overwhelm his reason.  So far, I’m liking this one much better.

Feel free to answer the Monday Musing question yourself, either here or on the blog of the meme’s host, Should Be Reading.  What are you reading now and how does it compare to your previous read?


Uncertain Peril in the 631’s

April 13, 2012 non-fiction, Science 1

2210231Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds is a manifesto strongly opposing our current use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  As someone pursuing a PhD in bioinformatics and generally comfortable with the idea of genetic engineering, I expected to be entirely unconvinced by the author’s arguments.  In fact, I almost didn’t pick this book up at all, because I wasn’t sure I could read it objectively enough.  However, I think avoiding reading books by author’s with viewpoints opposed to my own would seriously limit the amount I learn from this project.  Surprisingly, I ended up agreeing with a lot of the author’s points, even though I was sometimes shocked by her completely one-sided rhetoric. Read more »


Monday Musings

April 3, 2012 Monday Musings 0

This week the Monday Musings question is the following: Do you belong to any book clubs — face-to-face, or online? If so, how long have you been with the group(s)? If not, why?

March was actually my first month doing any group reads.  I really enjoyed reading Cinder with my YA goodreads group and there was a decent amount of discussion (a lot of which centered around how sad we all were when the book ended!).  I also liked the Reading Buddies discussion lead by Erin Reads for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  There was less interaction for this group, but I really like the book selections Erin has lined up for the next two months.  I’d also like to start participating in the book club run by The Cheap Reader, although so far they’ve been reading books I’ve already read.  Fortunately, she takes suggestions so I’ll have to come up with my a good book club book to suggest 🙂

Feel free to answer the Monday Musing question yourself, either here or on the blog of the memes host, Should Be Reading.  Are you in any book clubs?


Monday Musings

March 19, 2012 Monday Musings 2

This week the Monday Musings question is the following: Would you choose to review a book if its description sounded interesting but the cover was terrible?

I’m honestly not sure about this one, having never been put in that position.  So far, there have only been a few books I’ve been asked to review and the covers have been approximately as appealing as the descriptions.

When I first read this question, I misread the word “review” as “read” and I didn’t think the question made much sense.   In real life, browsing in the library for example, I don’t think I’d ever pick up a book with an unappealing cover.  This means I’d never get a chance to realize I liked the description because the cover drove me off first.  I think this might be one advantage to being asked to review books and reading other bloggers’ book reviews: you might read about an interesting book you would have passed by because of the cover and end up enjoying reading a book you would have missed otherwise.

Feel free to answer the Monday Musing question yourself, either here or on the blog of the memes host, Should Be Reading.


YA Bookends

March 11, 2012 Uncategorized 12

As I mentioned in my last post, this week I’ve let myself relax a little by reading some YA fiction.  As part of a goodreads challenge, I read Cinder at the beginning of the week and I’m definitely glad I did!  I’ve also started The Vampire Diaries and am a little way into the fourth book of the original quartet.  I’m liking it enough that I’m worried the TV show will mess with the plot too much, but am not sure if I’ll read any of spin-off series or not.


First of all, I liked it!  It was exactly the sort of read I needed to get me through a busy, school-and-research-filled week.  The author gets major points for coming up with such an original take on the Cinderella story.  Although she has moved the story forward in time and made Cinder an android, that’s just the beginning.  She also added her own secondary plots, with the earth struggling to avoid a war with a country formed from human colonists living on the moon and  a dreadful plague sweeping the country where Cinder lives.  Re-reading the previous sentence, it almost sounds too bizarre to be believe, but the whole plot flows quite logically and plausibly from the author’s excellent world building narrative.  We never learn about the world in a way that feels disconnected from the plot; instead, we constantly learn new information while staying engaged with the current moment. Read more »


Container Gardening in the 635’s

March 4, 2012 Nature, non-fiction 2

Finally, a book review!  Just for those of you who are new and were beginning to believe I don’t actually do those 😛  In fact, today I have several short book reviews for you, as I spent last week slowly absorbing information from a variety of books on container gardening.

The book I started with was Container Gardening for the Midwest, one of many books at my library which has caused me to be pleasantly surprised by the ability of even a small library to collect lots of region specific books.  This book followed a layout typical of the books I read, starting with general information about container gardening.  This included the benefits of different pot materials, different design elements (color pairing, shape, etc), how to plant your garden, and how to care for your garden.  Following the general care section was a section on specific plants.  Unfortunately, for gardening I think location north/south matters at least as much as what region of the US you’re in, so there was still some generality to this section.  I don’t think it’s fair to blame the book for that though when the only way to improve that would be an even more specific focus.  In fact, the plant specific section in this book was one of my favorites, because it had great pictures for every plant and I prefer to pick plants by appearance before determining whether or not I can really grow them.  I think it was a good book to start with, since it didn’t provide overwhelming details, and the long, picture-filled plant section made it the book I used most to make a to-be-shortened list of plants I might like to include in my own balcony garden. Read more »


Monday Musings

February 27, 2012 Monday Musings 6

This week the Monday Musings question is the following: Do you read books that are part of a series?  Do you collect all the books in the series before starting? What if the series is brand new, and the only book that’s been published so far is Book one? As subsequent books in the series are published, do you go back and re-read the preceding books?

I read a lot of books that are part of a series, although I honestly don’t pay much attention to whether or not a book is part of a series when I’m first deciding to pick it up.  If a book is in a series and  it’s a book I don’t like, I don’t need to read the rest and if I do like it, so much the better 🙂  But I do always, always, always make sure I have a complete series checked out of the library when I start the first book.  There’s very little I find more frustrating than wanting to start the next book and not being able to get it!  At the same time, if the next book is just not published yet, I’ll still read the first book.  I don’t like it when the book turns out to be a cliff-hanger, but I don’t mind waiting for the next book to come out.  In fact, one of my favorites series to read is The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and I re-read all of the books every time a new one comes out.  The same with the Harry Potter books when I was younger.  It’s just fun to become more familiar with the series, re-meet characters you loved, and get to follow their story a little bit further.

Feel free to answer the Monday Musing question yourself, either in the comments here or on the blog of the memes host, Should Be Reading.


Really Great Bookends – Part II

February 26, 2012 Fiction, Historical Fiction 13

This week I read two non-project books which were so good, I thought they each deserved their on post.  You can read about the first one here.

Current Fiction Readings

As I’ve spent more time wandering the library, I find more and more books that I’ve heard a lot about and which I can’t believe I haven’t read yet.  The Help was one of these books and based on the waiting list after me, I was lucky to stumble on a copy!  And I must say, along with the Percy Jackson series, this book is a convincing argument in favor of listening to all the hype some books get.  I loved this book.  In fact, my first thought when I finished it was that I just didn’t have words to describe how much I loved this book.  Since then, I’ve been pondering what to say about it and there are two specific features which I think contribute to the success of this book.

First, the author does an incredible job of telling the story from three different perspectives, accents and all.  At different times you almost believe a matronly black woman, a spunky young black woman, or a shy young white woman is sitting down next to you telling her story.  (For those of you who avoided the hype, this is a book about three women trying to enact change in a racist community during the period of Jim Crow laws, so my identification of the women’s races is both pertinent to the plot and important because of the great job the author does capturing the accents of the two black women.)

The second really great thing about this book was the subject, because more than a book about the process of desegregation, this was a book about people.  A book about human nature.  A book about people bravely coming together to do something good.  I’m almost scared to watch the movie, I just have trouble imagining it living up to the book!  I think I might rent it some times this week though (as the waiting list at the library is almost 100 people long!) and I’ll let you know how it goes if I do.


The Help – 5 stars – Awesome!  The characters felt very real and the story was incredibly moving.  Listen to the hype.  Read it.

Other Review:

  • The Mind of Tanitha – “I loved this book. I loved the way it took me to a different country, a different time…”