Posts Tagged ‘3 out of 5’

20th February
2014
written by Steph
With The Dinner and Long Division, the streak I kicked off with A Tale for the Time Being continues. Which is to say that I keep finding myself knee deep in books about which I have practically no opinion. It’s like they’re bouncing off me, like I’m made of reading impervious Teflon or something. I though that this was perhaps the unfortunate consequence that tends to arise when I let the ToB brackets guide my reading selections (as whenever I’ve tried to read the entire list of contenders in the past, I’ve generally wound up being unimpressed by more titles than not), but I’ve swapped in a non-ToB title (about which, more in a later post) as well, and it didn’t fare much better. So I’m beginning to wonder whether it’s not these books, but something wrong with me instead. Still, even though neither of these books provoked any great reaction in me and I feel like I don’t have tons to say about either, I want to write down some of my thoughts on them. For posterity or vanity… you be the judge. I normally don’t do mini reviews like this, but I’d rather write something than nothing, so reviewlets it shall be! (more…)
28th June
2011
written by Steph

Faithful (and perhaps even casual) readers of this blogs know that I have certain fondness for books that revolve around the scholastic world. Half the charm for me in reading the Harry Potter books wasn’t just in entering a magical world, but in getting to go to school with Harry and the gang. The moment when the first book really spoke to me was Harry’s first trip to Diagon Alley and Hagrid takes him through buying school supplies. Heaven! Probably the only place more dangerous to let me loose unsupervised other than a bookstore would be a stationary/office supplies stores. I can’t say I personally miss all that much about my own highschool experience, but when Fall comes round and I have no reason to buy new pens and binders, well, I may just die a bit inside. One of my goals has also been to try to read more international fiction, so when I saw Miss Timmins’ School for Girls on the TLC Tours roster which boasted a murder mystery taking place in an Indian boarding school, you can imagine how excited I was. As it was pitched, Miss Timmins’ revolves around a young Indian woman named Charu, who takes a position at the British-nun-run Miss Timmins’ boarding school teaching English as a means of stretching her wings and gaining some independence from her family. Although Charu is slow to make friends, she eventually forms a magnetic bond with a fellow teacher, Moira Prince, and the two become thick as thieves. Unfortunately, one dark and stormy evening (the very best kind of nights for murder most foul!), Moira’s body is found broken at the base of a cliff and signs suggest her fall was no accident. As suspicion flits around the community, Charu is determined to discover who killed her friend and why, even if it means bringing unwanted attention and questions upon herself. (more…)
20th June
2011
written by Steph

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need a break from “serious” fiction. Literary, prize-winning fiction (or at least books that aspire to that level) tends to make up the bulk of my reading diet, and while I wouldn’t have it any other way, there are times when I really just need to read something fun and frivolous and give my brain a break. Normally in such times, I turn to mysteries or something funny, so what could be better than a funny mystery? Would the melding of the two make for something larger than life (and supremely awesome) or would the two beloved factors wind up at war with one another and produce something lesser than the some of its individual parts? (more…)
29th March
2011
written by Steph

Looking at my reading log, I realized that I finished Practical Magic back on February 10. Normally I try to write reviews for books within a week of finishing them, but obviously that didn’t happen with this one. While I was reading PM, I thought it was a fine read and when I finished it, I concluded that I liked it well enough. So why is it that I find myself struggling so hard to write anything about it? I hate when I end up feeling apathetic about a book, because I can barely muster up the energy to talk about it, which is really no fun for anyone. Basically, I had never read an Alice Hoffman novel before so I didn’t really know what to expect going into this one. I think I had seen the movie version ages ago, but I remembered pretty much nothing about that experience. Also, after finishing the book, I did watch the movie trailer and it seems like the film takes considerable liberties and has a different focus than the book. Essentially the movie makes it seem like the book is about these powerful witch sisters who are cursed in the sense that any man who falls in love with them is destined to die… this is very much not how things go in the book. There are two deaths, one tied to each sister, but neither of these really has a direct link to either sister… in fact, the first death is important in the sense that it strikes home the fact that death comes when it will and there’s nothing we can do to stop it when it makes up its mind to claim someone we love. (more…)
17th March
2011
written by Steph

Just because I'm not writing about books here for the moment, that doesn't mean I've completely forsaken them! On Tuesday I got together with some of the wonderful women who work over at BookPage and sat down for a podcast in which we discussed Lionel Shriver's most recent novel, So Much For That. It was a vibrant and spirited discussion, which really helped to remind me why it is I started this blog in the first place: so that I could connect with others who are passionate about reading. As much as reading can be a solitary activity, I think the best books are the ones that get us thinking and talking and ultimately connecting with others. Not all of us responded to Shriver's latest work in the same way (I may have been a contrarian for much of this podcast... as in life), but it was still a really thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion, and yes it was a lot of fun! If you'd like to hear four passionate readers take off their gloves and throw down, you could do no better than listen to our discussion! I won't spill the beans and say whether or not I actually liked this book... you'll just have to listen to find out. [And really, it's the first question we answer, so you don't really have to listen for very long if you don't want to... I encourage you to listen to at least the first 5 minutes of the podcast for not just the answer to this very important question but also to listen to the awesome "Pemba" music at the start! 😉 ] Listen to the BookPage So Much For That Podcast by following this link! (more…)
23rd November
2010
written by Steph

To all you chick lit/rom com lovers out there: Don’t say I never do anything for you! While I admit that the number of reviews here at S&TI! that feature the fluffier and zanier side of an estrogen-filled life as featured in books with pretty little high-heeled shoes on their spines is somewhat lacking, I wouldn't want anyone to think that’s because I have a vendetta against the genre. Far from it. I know that the Bridget Jones series has gotten some flack over the years, but I unabashedly admit to loving the books (it’s one of the few “Jane Austen inspired” spin-offs I can get behind) and the movies. I’ve also read the majority of the Shopaholic books, and no one knows better than Tony how much I dig sitting down to a girly movie like The Devil Wears Prada or The Prince and Me (surely a prime example of the “so bad it’s good!” school of movie making). Heck, When Harry Met Sally is one of my very favorite movies. I have been known to watch it on loop, laughing EVERY time. Some may call that boring, but I find it comforting. The same can be said for chick lit. I don’t read much of it any more, largely because I have found that I tend to prize prose and innovation in my recent reading material over the past few years. I think there are things that chick lit does very well, but one thing I tend not to find it is very surprising. Normally by reading the back cover, one has a pretty good idea of how things are going to shake out by the end, and while I do think there are authors out there who take a rather inventive approach to the genre (Emily Giffin is one such author, in my opinion), most of the time I find most chick lit formulaic. You have a sassy (if not clutzy or down-on her-luck) heroine who for various reasons cannot find Mr. Right (normally because she is currently involved in some capacity with Mr. Wrong). Throughout the course of the novel, said heroine goes on a journey of self-discovery that involves not a few embarrassing situations but it all pays off in the end because she miraculously manages to snag a man (or a job) who loves her “just as she is”. Cue the end credits and bump in one’s ovulation cycle and the novel has delivered all it has set out to do. We’ve laughed, maybe we’ve cried, but mostly we’ve been entertained, perhaps in a predictable and slightly mindless way, but hey, sometimes that’s what one needs. (more…)
26th October
2010
written by Steph

With all of the hubbub surrounding Nicole Krauss of late – her newest novel Great House was published at the start of the month and has since been officially named as a contender for the National Book Award – I’m sure many readers who are new to her work may be curious about her earlier works of fiction. The History of Love is one of my very favorite books, as I find it to be a perfectly lethal combination of heartwrenching emotion and gorgeous writing, and it’s just one of those books that I truly savor every line of. Ever since I read it (well before my blogging days), I knew I’d happily read anything Krauss wrote, because she’s exactly the kind of writer I love; thoughtful, sensitive, and a true artist when it comes to choosing her words. If I could write half as well as her, well, I’d be very a happy woman. Instead, I satisfy myself by reading her books, and that’s not a bad condolence prize, truth be told. When I was preparing for my interview with Nicole Krauss for the October issue of BookPage (which you can read here, if you haven’t already), I wanted to make sure I had read all of her published works. I was lucky enough to come across a copy of Man Walks Into a Room a while back at McKay’s, and I used my impending conversation as the catalyst to finally read the darn thing. You see, I’m what you might call a book hoarder. I not only buy more books than I can read, but I also tend to do this thing where I save books that I think I’ll love so that I know they’re waiting for me. I like knowing there are still bona fide good books that I’ll enjoy ahead of me, and I’ve gotten very good at delaying gratification. Hence why despite loving Jane Austen, I’ve still never read Mansfield Park or Persuasion (or any of her shorter works)… I just need to know there is still some Jane out there for me to freshly discover. I don’t like the idea of living in a world where there’s no more new Austen for me. So I wait. And I did this with Man Walks Into a Room for a long time too. (more…)
19th October
2010
written by Steph

Are you a seasonal reader? When the weather gets cooler and the leaves begin to drop from the trees, do you find yourself craving spookier reads? If so, Sharp Objects just might be the book for you. Sharp Objects tells the story of down-on-her-luck reporter, Camille Preaker, whose third-tier newspaper reporting job in Chicago has her returning to her hometown in Missouri, a place full of dark secrets and bad memories that she’d rather leave squarely in her past. Alas, there’s a serial killer on the loose who is targeting young girls, relieving them of their teeth along with their lives… All signs suggest a local is the cause behind the crimes, so Camille has no choice but to start poking around in places that might just reveal that her childhood horrors are far from over… and more deadly than she ever suspected. (more…)
15th September
2010
written by Steph

One of my favourite books that I read last year was Generation A by Douglas Coupland. From the very first pages I was hooked by the fluid, mellifluous prose, and I really loved the way Coupland explored the ways stories can unite people, while also looking at the way the barrage of technology can actually make us feel more isolated than ever before. I thought Generation A was clever but also emotionally sound, never sacrificing the heart of its narrative in order to show off. I was so excited by the book that I couldn’t help gushing about it to a friend who I knew to be a big Coupland fan. She said that my next read should definitely be Microserfs, as that was one of her very favourite books that he’s written. Microserfs takes the form of a diary written by a young debugger named Daniel who works at Microsoft. Initially his writing is meant to help him combat his insomnia and the odd dreams he’s been having, but it mostly winds up chronicling his daily life along with those of his friends/coworkers/housemates as they struggle through the quotidian slog of working at Microsoft much at the expense of any of them having successful/functional personal lives. That is until they are offered the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new startup company a former coworker has been working on out in California, and suddenly life gets a little more interesting… (more…)
2nd June
2010
written by Steph

Ok, so it’s time for a confession: I’ve been running behind on my book writeups. I read The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno about two weeks ago and am just now getting around to writing about it… which means, that this is probably going to be a relatively nebulous post in which I assert things without really being able to back them up.  Because at this point I remember how I ultimately felt about the book, but perhaps not specifically why I feel the way.  Then again, maybe the fact that two weeks later and I’m struggling to say anything interesting about this book speaks volumes about the book itself. But let’s backtrack a bit.  I first read about this book over at Farm Lane Books when Jackie reviewed it and said it was one of the best books about an American family that she’s ever read.  That paired with the quirky cover (featuring a giant squid!  Y’all know how I’m fascinated with things that live in the sea) immediately caught my attention and I placed a hold on the book at the local library. (more…)
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