Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels


Okay, so, Ree Drummond. I stumbled on her blog long after thousands of people started flocking there daily. I actually think I found her blog when I was attempting the GAPS diet because someone linked to one her recipes saying this was what they wished they were having for dinner (I think I was lasagne - full of cheese and wheat that wasn't allowed on GAPS)

After I found her blog, I started poking around and I read most of the first part of the book there but I still wanted to read the extras in the book. I really enjoyed reading it - even a second time. The thing is, I know there are at least two sites dedicated to hating this author and I don't really understand the hate...they don't like her love story, because how could it be real? Especially since she came from a privileged family and married someone from one of the wealthiest ranch families in Oklahoma. But I still like it. It's totally a love story and it's a memoir, so there are omissions and there are probably some instances of hyperbole and all the other things that happen when you tell a story...whatever.

I don't understand the hate towards The Pioneer Woman. Here is someone who has built a brand around what apparently was a hobby. So what if the reason she is able to do this is because she's a housewife? The hate seems to stem from her brand and its success...I have made a few of her recipes and they worked out just fine...two of them are favourites in our house. There seems to be anger towards her because instead of talking about how she homeschools her children, she has two or three bloggers who do that. She has built the successful Tasty Kitchen Community...she's obviously smart. I didn't see it in the book, but I seem to remember her plan before she met Marlboro Man was to move to Chicago to go to law school...I guess I don't understand why the hate...I get not necessarily liking her, but the stalker-like behaviour on the hate sites is scary. Why is it a problem that when your blogging business grows and you can't do it yourself any longer, you hire people to help? Who, besides Ree, her husband and kids, really care if she's the one homeschooling them or if they employ a tutor?

Sorry...this has become a rant and it was supposed to be about the book. It's a good, fast, summer book. It's kind of syrupy and a bit (over)dramatic in places, but if you're going to the beach, the cabin, the cottage, the lake house, camping or flying over continents or oceans, it's definitely a book to consider.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love and Laughing Out Loud

furry red monster

I finally made it into the realm of non-fiction! Kevin (and Elmo) were pretty funny...there were a few editorial things that drove me nuts (incorrect use of whom...), but the stories were cute and there were some good lessons. I thought there might be a little bit more about Elmo though...

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers is the 2011 winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction. I really liked this book...the tone was great and it was pretty funny in some parts! Eli Sisters narrates the book and he is a very compassionate hired assassin. Charlie Sisters, Eli's older brother, is more ruthless and has no (very little?) conscience. The ongoing ordeal of Tub the horse is both humorous and heart breaking. The imagery of the Wild West and the lawlessness and debauchery that went hand in hand with the gold rush is excellent. Their journey down the West Coast and back again really does bring them full circle from young boys living in an abusive home, to hired guns, to grown men, safe in their home...

Oh, and can I just say, I love the cover!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Halfway to fifty-two

A Secret Kept marked halfway to completing the challenge. I can't believe I'm here already! If I can keep reading at this speed, I'm on pace to read 75 books this year. SEVENTY-FIVE. That's a lot. And I'm pretty sure I won't read that many...I have some busy times ahead of me this year.

But, I'm pretty sure I can make it to 52!

A quick round-up of the first 26 books:

All 26 came from the library
Only one book was classified as a book for adults
The 26 books belonged to 12 authors and 19 of the books where shared between four authors (apparently I've been drawn to series this go around)
There were 8 mysteries and 12 fantasy novels
Every single one of these books was new to me!

For the second half of the challenge, I'd like to think I might read a few more "grown-up" books and maybe some non-fiction. Anyone have any suggestions for either of those?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Secret Kept

Hey guys, look, I've returned to the grown-up books! This is also the halfway point for my challenge, but more on that in a later post.

I really liked Sarah's Key, another book by Tatiana de Rosnay that I read last summer, when I say this one at the library, I was happy to give it a try. It was a quick read. I finished it the same day I started it and it was a day when I had J with me most of the day and no one to help with her. Which means it was a super quick read. I was a bit disappointed because I felt like this book was quite formulaic, which isn't a bad thing except that it felt like it was written to fit into a model.

While I enjoyed the book enough, there wasn't a character I really liked. Antoine's life just felt lost although, maybe he was finding his way when the book ended. I felt like Mélanie's character started to develop in the opening chapters, but then she just dissolved into a supporting character later in the book even though she played an important role in what was to come. Her change of heart about finding out the truth about the secret just happened with no explanation and didn't fit with the other decisions characters made. It was too abrupt.

I would recommend this book as a light read for a holiday or other escape from reality! I have a hold on The House I Loved, so I'll see if it was just something about this book that rubbed me the wrong way...

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Warlock: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT (unless you've read the first four books, then you're probably okay)

The Warlock. The Deceiver. The Traitor. There were a few warlocks in this book. As I've made my way through The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, I have discovered that I really need to read it with a dictionary, an open web browser and maybe a professor of mythology by my side. I think this is a series that I will one day want to share with J, but I need to better educate myself on mythology. My biggest problem is that most of the myths I know about, apart from the Bible, are Roman and some Greek. Michael Scott doesn't just include those two, he also refers to Mayan, Egyptian, Norse, Irish, and Japanese myths among others. The books are also full of other historical figures, some of whom were instantly recognizable (Mr. William Shakespeare or Joan of Arc anyone?), some of whom I recognized but had very little context for (Machiavelli, Billy the Kid), and some who are most certainly interesting but I had no idea who they were in any context (Virginia Dare).

I read The Necromancer and The Warlock back-to-back over a few quick days. I was away from home with J and had lots of downtime and when I finished The Necromancer, I literally put it down and picked up The Warlock and kept reading. That's mostly why my post on The Necromancer is so short and refers to this one. I can't remember where one book ends and the other begins.

The Enchantress, the last book in the series, is due out very soon and I get to have one of the first copies from the library, fresh off the shelves, before anyone else reads it and I'm hoping that soon there might be a box set, maybe of trade paperbacks, so that I can read them slowly and refer to earlier books as I plug along. Oh, and so I can pay closer attention to the covers.

I wish I had made a map of the main characters and their relationships and drawn myself a family tree of sorts, because I can't remember who goes with whom now...

So far I've enjoyed this series. I am looking forward to the last book and to rereading all of them too...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Necromancer: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel


Book four in Michael Scott's series about Sophie, Josh, the Flamels and a very interesting cast of supporting characters was good. I am feeling like I'd like to have all of them around me when I read them though...more about this with The Warlock, coming soon to a blog near you...

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Tin Princess

the tin princess

This is and isn't part of the Sally Lockhart series, The Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North and The Tiger in the Well being the others. It features some of the same characters, including Sally, but it focuses on her friend Jim and Adelaide, a young girl who vanished in The Ruby in the Smoke. As with The Tiger in the Well, I started reading this book to get through the series, but then it actually became kind of interesting. I felt it was a bit farfetched, but it was interesting.

And now I'm quite happy to moving forward to something else...

Would I recommend The Tin Princess? Maybe. I feel like I probably would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't thinking of it as part of the Sally Lockhart series.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Tiger in the Well

the tiger in the well

Does anyone else remember when I started this challenge I made some rules? Mostly rules for me, but rules nonetheless? (Although really, I'd call them guidelines more than rules...) Specifically, rule #1? About not finishing a book if I wasn't enjoying it?

Yeah. Me too. I remember that.

But I didn't follow that rule with this book. I struggled with this one. It was long. It involved plot elements from the first book, which I read back in February and that book is back at the library, so I couldn't flip back and check things out. I had trouble concentrating, mostly because I was reading to distract myself and it was only working some of the time...

Once I got to the last five or six chapters, I did start enjoying what I was reading, but before that, not so much. I felt like there was too much going on and too many little threads of story happening, some of which were relevant and some of which were not. And I was frustrated. And I'm sure that was the intention of Philip Pullman. Lots of the stuff going on in the book wouldn't be tolerated in our society and yet it was commonplace in late 19th century London. I also really wanted them to Google a bunch of things and maybe use GPS cell phone pinging to locate people and things. And that is a sign that I watch too many procedural dramas. Yes, that I do.

Do I recommend it? Well, I didn't think it was a good as The Ruby in the Smoke or The Shadow in the North (what's with Pullman and this series and it's "The Blank in the Other Blank" titles?), but it was interesting. It was maybe too long. And I maybe need to let go of my sentimentality...I'd read the first two, so I had to finish (sort of) the series.

So do I recommend it (yes, I asked that already and got all parenthetical on myself)? Well, maybe. I'd recommend the first two and then suggest you try number might like it better than also might be more focused than I was...