Monday, March 29, 2010

Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich (2008)

I just needed a fun read while work and life were being difficult and this Stephanie Plum just hit the spot. There were times I broke out into a big smile while listening to this book, a few times even started laughing. This time Stepahnie is going after Munch, who has stolen some equipment from his lab and is hiding out in the New Jersey Pine Barrons. Instead of just two hunks (Morelli and Ranger who seem to be more in the background) in her life, a third shows up - Diesel. Where does Evanovich come up with these names? The bad guy is Wolf, and there are Ranger, Tank, and Flash too. Lula is her usual outrageous self, but I was glad she was in on just some of the action, because she mostly grates on my nerves. There is always a domestic plot line too. This time Stephanie has to help Morelli get rid of his brother Tony, who has moved in since his wife kicked him out.

Bound by Donna Jo Napoli (2004)

I came upon this young adult book when looking to see what we have on Chinese foot binding. I have never read anything by Napoli, but I saw she had a shelf full of interesting young adult books. This is a Chinese version of the Cindarella tale, where the lovely stepdaughter has naturally small feet, but her stepsister has large feet that the mother is binding to get her a husband. The Cindarella part of the story happens relatively quickly in the last few chapters, but most concentrates on the village life, the disability caused by the bound feet, the relationship between the mother, daughter, stepdaughter and spirits of the dead parents.

I also went and looked at some of the foot binding books we have. I knew the feet were deformed by this process, but when I saw some of the photos of the mis-formed feet with very thick heels and tiny scrunched toes, I was quite revolted. And this was supposed to be the height of eroticism? OK, the little slippers were cute, but for guys to swoon over these small feet, even though if they actually saw or touched these mis-formed feet I don't know how they could be called little lotus flowers. I understood that the women kept some bindings on at all times, so the men didn't see these feet bare. Never mind that the women could barely walk and do their chores, plus were in pain much of the time.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (2009)

The second book of the Hunger Games was again wonderful. Since Katniss and Peeta won the last hunger games, they now have to travel around to all the districts and be shown off. By saving Peeta and defying the games' rules, Katniss has become a symbol for rebellion throughout the districts. She now has to continue the pretense she started in the first book of being madly in love with Peeta. He IS in love with her, but she loves Gale. Anyway, Collins keeps spinning this complex alternative future world, that never ceases to amaze me.

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (2006)

Couldn't stay away from these quick exciting little books, so this is Book 2 of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. This time we learn of the various sea-faring myths including ones from the Odyssey. We run into Poseidon, Medusa, the Sirens, Cyclops, Golden Fleece , Circe and more.

I again liked the interplay between today's world and the mythological one - like Harry Potter's world, where the regular humans don't really see the magiv and like in Men in Black, hey are helped to forget things.

I liked Percy's new side-kick Tyson and the waves at sea that formed sea creatures that carried them on part of their adventure.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova (2010)

I picked this up, because I enjoyed Kostova's Historian, but it took me almost half the book to get into it, and then I was totally enthralled. The Kostova entertwines the lives of her characters, both present and in the past, is intriguing, and I really had no clue why artist Robert Oliver attacked a painting in the National Gallery of Art in the very beginning of the book, until the author explained it at the very end. I was ready to return this audio book, when I stopped by to see my artist friend Sniedze, and realized she had to listen to it too. She loved it. Will wait for the paperback to purchase. I hope I have time to describe this in detail at some point.

Manhunt by Janet Evanovich (1989)

Sorry, one of the worst books I have listened to in a long time. I thought Janet Evanovich was better than this - maybe it is one of her first books. Stephanie Plum isn't the most admirable character, but you get to know her quirks, and she just ends up being incredibly funny. This Alex - the executive who lived in Princeton, worked in lower Manhattan (never explained why she was willing to commute 2 hours each way), who trades an expensive condo for a cabin and hardware store in Alaska sight unseen, just doesn't make any sense. Yes, at times she is strong, and I like the idea of transplanted NY exec to Alaska, but she just ended up being stupid. The guy was OK, but I totally didn't get the old style romance novel games. I am afraid I will Evanovich alone, except for the Plum books.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Silli Mommo: An Ethiopian Tale (2002)

This kid's book just grabbed my attention. Interesting that it is in both English and Amharic, a Semitic language spoken in Ethiopia. I used to love fairy tales. This one actually hit home for me, as there is this single mom struggling to raise a boy by herself, but she ends of spoiling him and there is question whether he will be able to function in the grown-up world. This boy does absurd things, like not knowing to put money in his pocket, so Mom says, next time put it in your pocket. The next time he gets milk, which he then pours in his pocket, etc.