Booktalk

Aug. 1st, 2011 02:37 pm
listersgirl: (books)
When I joined Goodreads, I was determined to continue writing up my books here (since not everyone is on Goodreads, but we're pretty much all big readers). I failed. I thought it had been a few months, but the last time I posted about books was October. So here's a shortcut version of what I've been reading.

Books! )

Is anyone else on Goodreads and not yet my friend?

Booktalk

Oct. 12th, 2010 09:35 pm
listersgirl: (books)
Look, more books! I got a little backlogged. This is also a combination of my most recent reads, and some from ages ago that I found in a file (pre-Goodreads, even). Whoops.

Read more... )

Booktalk

Oct. 12th, 2010 09:05 pm
listersgirl: (books)
If you're on Goodreads with me, you may have read some of these reviews. Sorry. :)

Books! )

Booktalk

Jul. 21st, 2010 09:36 pm
listersgirl: (books)
Hester Browne The Finishing Touches

Light fluffy book about a woman who was left on the doorstep of a finishing school, and having grown up there, as an adult is asked to help the school out when it's on the verge of closing. I have a soft spot for stories about makeovers (in this case, of the school) and was very entertained.

Cathy Marie Buchanan The Day the Falls Stood Still

A novel about class differences, heroism, and progress vs. nature, set at Niagara Falls around the first World War. I liked it.

Terry Fallis The Best Laid Plans

This was such a surprising delight. A Liberal speechwriter leaves politics for academia, except for just one thing: he agrees to find a Liberal candidate to run against the hugely popular Finance Minister in a permanently Conservative riding. He makes a deal with his Engineering prof landlord, trading the Liberal candidacy for a semester teaching the dreaded "English for Engineers". The agreement is based on the fact that there's no chance his candidate will win, except... It was very funny, and I like political insider-y stuff (the actual details of how Ottawa works). The writing was not always beautiful, but it made me laugh on the subway.

Anna Jane Grossman Obsolete

A collection of short essays on things from VCRs to cursive writing. Entertaining and some nice historical detail, but the tone varied pretty wildly from serious to facetious

Zoe Heller The Believers

Great stuff - a novel about a seriously dysfunctional family that has to confront itself after the patriarch has a heart attack.

Sadie Jones The Outcast

This book felt so much like a Canadian book set in the same era that I kept having to double check where it was set. Repeated mentions of "London" didn't help either. :D Good, but not awesome, story about a young boy growing up wrong (at least according to society) after his mother's death.

Brian Moore The Great Victorian Collection

Eh. A man dreams into creation an entire collection of (already existing) Victoriana and goes a bit crazy as a consequence. Interesting idea, but the book itself wasn't that great.

Alice Munro Too Much Happiness

Really excellent short stories. I rarely like short stories, but I love Munro's - somehow she manages to make them both have a story arc and feel complete in their smallness. Lovely.

Booktalk

Jun. 15th, 2010 10:13 pm
listersgirl: (books)
I'm pretty sure this post (from Sunday) didn't actually show up on anyone's friends list. If it did and I'm repeating myself, my apologies!

Elisa Albert The Book of Dahlia

A caustic and funny book from the point of view of someone diagnosed with cancer.

Bonnie Burnard A Good House

A perfectly decent book with pretty much nothing going on. 50 years in the life of a small-town Canadian family.

Chris Cleave The Other Hand

Meh. I probably would have said this was a good book, but it did not remotely live up to the "life-changing! never tell anyone what it is about so they can discover the magic for themselves!" hype on the book jacket.

Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer Wild Ride

Fluffily entertaining book about escaping demons who had previously been trapped in an amusement park.

Neil Gaiman Coraline
Neil Gaiman The Graveyard Book

These were excellent, and extremely short. I especially liked The Graveyard Book - very atmospheric.

Terry Griggs Thought You Were Dead

This was good, but not great. An off-beat pseudo-mystery, it just spent a little too much time in the protagonist's head, so it didn't have a lot of forward momentum.

Xiaolu Guo The Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers

I remember this getting a lot of press when it was first released, and I think it deserved it. A lovely story of a relationship, told from the point of view of a woman just learning English.

Christopher Moore Bite Me

Entertaining sequel to You Suck. The Abby Normal voice was a bit hard to take after a while, though.

Neal Shusterman Unwind

A fascinating concept: In an attempt to please both sides of the abortion issue, abortion is made illegal, but parents are allow to "unwind" their children between 13 and 17 if they wish. In the book, some kids who are scheduled to be unwound try to escape. I really enjoyed it, but I wished it were longer and more in depth - it felt a little surface-skimming, with some very convenient resolutions.
listersgirl: (books)
Jocelyne Allen You and the Pirates

There's an explosion. You see people climbing down the side of a building. You're told you don't see them. There's another explosion. And another. A girl with pink hair appears in your house. And you're Up? An offbeat and entertaining novel that managed to hook me in completely, despite being in 2nd person singular present tense. I'm not totally sure why I picked this book up - some sort of Canada Reads alternate list, maybe? But I'm happy I did.

Alan Bradley The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Meh. I know this has been getting great press, but I just wasn't that interested. Maybe it was just one too many genius children, coming so soon after The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

Will Ferguson Beyond Belfast: A 560-Mile Walk Across Northern Ireland on Sore Feet

A comic travelogue of a man discovering the land of his grandfather. Entertaining read. The sore feet part was very accurate.

Stacey May Fowles Fear of Fighting

A sardonic look at post-break-up depression, with a serious undercurrent of how terrible it is to be single. Kind of a miserable read.

Julie Klausner I Don't Care About Your Band

Julie Klausner has lots to say about her bad relationships, and she's awfully funny while she does so.

Lori Lansens The Wife's Tale

A great book about a very overweight small-town Ontario woman who travels to California to find her husband after he disappears. Enjoyed it.

Connie Willis Blackout

So fabulous. Didn't want this to end! The publisher had it wrong: I would happily have had the giant book all as one (although it would have been hard to hold onto, true). A return to to future Oxford, historians, and Willis' favourite - missed connections.
listersgirl: (xander)
I would like to talk about Doctor Who and entertainment fatigue. However, the two are not related. It's just that if I don't talk about them both right now, I'll forget everything that I decided I had to say last night.

Doctor Who )

Entertainment fatigue, or, what if I run out of movies? )
listersgirl: (books)
Canada Reads starts next week! I actually read all the shortlist this year - this was made easier by putting them on hold at the library literally as they were announced.

So, my own personal choices, in order from least to most favourite:

5. Good to a Fault*
4. Generation X**
3. The Jade Peony
2. Nikolski
1. Fall On Your Knees

*It's very well written, and I'd recommend it to other people, but I found it too stressful to read (far more stressful than it was intended to be), which I think left me a little angry at the book. Sorry, book!

**I had a very hard time placing this book. I love a lot of Coupland's early books, but this was never one of my favourites, and the writing style that made it so entertaining and revolutionary when it was written has been copied so often that it feels a bit pale now.

And, my prediction for the order they will be knocked off:

5. Generation X
4. Nikolski
3. Fall On Your Knees
2. Good To A Fault
1. The Jade Peony

If it weren't for the Oprah thing, I think Fall On Your Knees would totally take it, but I think the previous wide exposure is going to lead to a fairly early exit. I'm probably totally wrong, though. :)

Anyone else read the books? Have predictions?
listersgirl: (books for me)
Once again, all my library holds are arriving at once. Surely there much be a better way to work the system!

Booktalk

Jan. 3rd, 2010 02:34 pm
listersgirl: (books)
Libba Bray Sweet Far Thing

I have to admit that, as much as I enjoyed the first book in the series, by about half way through this one (the third) I really just wanted it to be over. I felt it got really repetitive, like she took one long novel and stretched it out into 3 books. Not the best ending to the series.

Austin Clarke More

The winner of the Toronto Book Awards (I decided to read all the nominees this year). I liked it, but I didn't love it. Clarke is definitely a fantastic writer who creates unforgettable characters (like this Caribbean immigrant to Canada whose son has gotten involved in something dangerous), but the book was somewhat repetitive and he just kind of lost me part way through.

Anthony De Sa Barnacle Love

Another Toronto Book Award nominee, about a Portuguese immigrant to Toronto and his son's life here. Not the most exciting story, but I loved how deeply Toronto was enmeshed in the story.

Kim Edwards The Memory Keeper's Daughter

An interesting novel about a doctor whose wife has twins, one of whom has Down syndrome. Thinking to spare her the pain he went through when his sister died young, he tells her only one child survived, and sends the other to a home, but the nurse who was at the birth takes the girl home instead. It was a bit overly emotional (or maybe just too much of the same emotions), but worth reading.

Victor Gischler Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse

The cover blurb compares it to Christopher Moore meets Quentin Tarantino, and that's pretty accurate. It was funny, sometimes very funny, but why is it that in any kind of post-apocalyptic society, women characters are only ever useful for their bodies? The misogyny was a bit much for me for large chunks of the book.

Elizabeth Hay Late Nights on Air

So fantastic! Everyone should read this book. It's about a radio station in the Yukon, but more than that, it's kind of a love letter to the Yukon itself, and what it does to the people who live there. Really awesome.

Maggie Helwig Girls Fall Down

This was another nominee for the Toronto Book Awards, and the one I would have picked for the win. In the subway, a girl throws up, complaining of the smell of roses and being poisoned by the air. It spreads throughout the city. No-one can find anything. Meanwhile, a hospital photographer meets up again with a woman he loved many years ago and had never forgotten. Fascinating, emotional, and a little creepy.

A.J. Jacobs The Guinea Pig Diaries

A bunch of shorter experiments conducted by Jacobs, the man who read the encyclopedia and lived by the Bible for a year. Some of them were quite entertaining. I got the impression that he really is very involved in the things he tries, that they're not entirely so he can sell books.

Patricia McKillip The Bell at Sealey Head

A fun fantasy novel recommended by [livejournal.com profile] c0untmystars about a grand house where doors sometimes open onto another world full of rites and traditions that must be followed. Got me out of my reading slump - I definitely wanted to see what was going to happen.

Nathan Rabin The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You by Pop Culture

Very entertaining, and I liked how the "comic essays based on my tragic life" format was filtered through specific pop culture moments.

George Saunders Pastoralia

You know, this book of short stories has been on all sorts of "best of the decade" lists, and I just don't see it. I thought the ideas behind the stories were interesting and clever, but I found the writing a bit blah. Oh well.

John Sewell The Shape of the Suburbs: Understanding Toronto's Sprawl

I enjoyed the first 2/3rds of this book, looking at the early years of the growth of Toronto's outskirts, but by the end it dissolved into discussions of committees and protest groups that the author himself was involved in, and the minutiae nearly killed me.

Lionel Shriver The Post-Birthday World

Another awesome book! The two lives that happen when a woman kisses a certain man, or doesn't. One of the things I loved about the book was that I never felt partial to one life or the other, so I was continuously curious to see how it would end, without hoping for a specific conclusion. Really quite fantastic.

Charles Wilkins In the Land of the Long Fingernails

The last of the Toronto Book Award nominees. This one is a memoir of the couple of years the author worked in a local cemetery, when he was was in university, and the utter bizarreness of the experience. A very fun book.

I also got on this big kick of re-reading Nora Roberts books. They're not as awesome as I remember them being, although I haven't gotten to the ones I liked best at the time. It's possible this is another case of things best left un-revisited, though.
listersgirl: (books)
Internet, I throw myself at your book-loving mercy! I've been completely uninspired by all the fiction I've read lately, so I am looking for suggestions or ideas.

What I seem to want right now: fiction, not short stories, something definitely plot-driven. Bonus points if it's funny or quippy or features awesome women. Other than that, I will take all recommendations! Go at it.

Booktalk

Sep. 23rd, 2009 08:43 pm
listersgirl: (books)
Steve Almond and Julianna Baggott Which Brings Me to You

Something about this book felt way too voyeuristic - I was squirmily uncomfortable through most of it, not because it was especially graphic, but it just felt weird. Hmm.

More books under the cut! )

Booktalk

Jun. 28th, 2009 06:30 pm
listersgirl: (books)
Oooh, I have so many books to talk about. I have another list already that's even longer than this one. Oops.

Books! )

Booktalk

Mar. 8th, 2009 02:41 pm
listersgirl: (books)
Kate Atkinson When Will There Be Good News?

Another Brodie book, and one of my favourites of hers. Interesting characters, and interconnected and destroyed lives.

Emma Donoghue Touchy Subjects

A collection of stories on taboo and uncomfortable themes. Nicely done.

Brian Francis Fruit

A Canada Reads 2009 selection. About a boy growing up in Sarnia, who has a crazy family, vivid daydreams, and talking nipples. That's right. Totally fun.

Malcolm Gladwell Outliers

I love Gladwell's books! They are fascinating and always make me excited about some new idea. This one looks at superstars in various fields, and breaks down how people rise to the top.

Phillipa Gregory The Virgin's Lover

After this, and The Tudors, and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, I have many different versions of history in my head. :) It was okay - not particularly memorable, but a fun read.

Joanne Harris Sleep Pale Sister

A gothic tale of madness and revenge that is completely different from her other works. Pretty good.

Marian Keyes This Charming Man

I think I liked Keyes better when her books weren't all in the first person with multiple points of view. I like her stories, and I like her writing style, but I often don't like the voices of her characters. I went back and re-read some of her earlier books to make up for it.

Jayne Ann Krentz Sizzle and Burn

I picked this up from the Quick Reads at the library over Christmas. I used to read her when she was a straight romance novelist, but this one could be described as paranormal suspence romance. Sort of. It was okay, but a bit flat.

Vincent Lam Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures

A fantastic book of short stories, all with a medical theme (Lam was/is a doctor), and featuring an interconnecting group of characters. I loved it.

Naomi Novik His Majesty's Dragon
Naomi Novik Throne of Jade

These were entertaining - a cross between Anne McCaffrey's dragon series and the Patrick O'Brien books. I, of course, liked the first one best because I like origin stories. I tuned out during the battle scenes, though.

Michel Trembley The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant

Another Canada Reads 2009 selection. I kind of enjoyed it, but it took me quite a while to get into it. Everyone just seemed so angry and depressed. I liked the picture of 1940's Montreal, though.

Paco Underhill The Call of the Mall

An interesting analysis of how malls work and how malls don't work. It made me glad I don't spend much time in them!
listersgirl: (books for me)
Okay, the book situation is getting dire! All my library books (which actually aren't that many - I need to find some more things to put on hold) are massive, too massive to carry around. Since we moved to this apartment I've re-read nearly everything I own (except for the massive ones), and practically everything [livejournal.com profile] sarcasma owns. I need books to carry around with me! I don't like this one bit.

Booktalk

Jan. 1st, 2009 01:55 pm
listersgirl: (books)
My *first* resolution is to do these book roundups monthly... )

And thus concludes your book recommendations, other than the couple I couldn't take out of the library, and House of Leaves, which I just couldn't get into at all. I'm sure I'll be asking for more soon!

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