Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Review: Along for the Ride

Light enough for the beach but filled with characters that are fleshed out just enough to leave you wanting more, Along for the Ride is a good lighthearted read that's perfect when you just want to relax.

Auden West is a teenage academic pro and the daughter of Dr. Victoria West, English professor extraordinaire, and Robert West, an "in the works" writer. Her parents are divorced, and her father is remarried to a twentysomething young thing named Heidi. Auden's summer begins with an invitation from her stepmother to come visit them and the new baby, a girl named Thisbe. (It's from Shakespeare, Auden's dad explains. He likes names with character.) Uncharacteristically, Auden decides to visit, realizing that this could be her last chance to connect with her dad before college starts, and later, her life as an adult.

By the end of the novel, she's learned a lot about relationships with people (and not just the boyfriend kind-- her family and new friends as well). I liked this book because you get to see the main character grow as a person, but you also see the people around her grow as well. Most of the characters in this book started off being complete jerks, but as the novel progressed, they learned a bit from their mistakes and tried to become better people. As Adam and Maggie have taught her, it's worth it to keep trying.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Review: Sleeping Murder

Gwenda Reed, New Zealand native, is house shopping in England. Her new husband Giles is still abroad, and she's looking for a place where they can both settle down and raise a family. She's eager to find a nice house and begin getting it ready for him. She finds a beautiful house in Dillmouth and buys it, but that's where the trouble starts... from the uncanny familiarity of the house to the frighteningly shadowed memories of Gwenda's childhood, it's definitely a case for Miss Marple!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Book Review: Murder With Mirrors

A Miss Marple mystery by Agatha Christie, Murder With Mirrors is also published under the name They Do It With Mirrors. While visiting her friend Carrie Louise Serrocold, Miss Jane Marple senses that all is not quite right. Carrie Louise and her husband Lewis run a 'College' for young criminals to try and turn them away from their life of crime. Someone seems to be trying to poison good-hearted Carrie Louise, but she herself can't believe that anyone would try to do such a thing. Suspicion in such cases would naturally fall to the husband-- but Mr. Serrocold seems genuinely concerned for her health and appears to love her very much. Is it one of the young criminals, who are not allowed outside after dark? Or is it a family member after Carrie Louise's money? Everyone has a motive! Miss Marple must find out what's really beneath the surface before it's too late.

finished scarf!

It *only* took me six months or so, but it's finished at last! The scarf is made of 3 full skeins of Sugar 'n' Cream yarn, and the fringe consists of 35 pieces of yarn per side, varying color depending on the color of yarn in the rows above it. Not at all bad for a first-time knitter, and I now have something I can wear in the winter! I'm especially excited about this because I rarely complete projects I start (I usually grow bored about halfway through), but a friend encouraged me to finish and this is what I produced. :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Book Review: And Then There Were None

Also published under the title Ten Little Indians, this is an thrilling page-turner that will keep you up at night if you don't finish it in one sitting! Ten people are invited to a house on Indian Island. Slowly it's revealed that each of them have a rather sketchy past. One by one they are murdered-- but who's killing them, and why? (I can't say more or I'll spoil it entirely!) This is probably one of Agatha Christie's best works, and overall a chilling but excellent read.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Book Review: Shanghai Girls

Initially, this book caught my eye when I was browsing in a bookstore with a friend. I picked it up and began reading it (something I never do in a store), and found myself intrigued. I didn't buy it because I don't buy books I haven't read before, but did get it from the library. Upon completing it, I was very glad that I hadn't bought it...
This historical novel is set in China in the 1930s, and portrays two girls, Pearl and May, who consider themselves modern Shanghai girls-- until their father tells them that he's gambled away the family fortune and that they must travel to America to become Chinese brides. However, then the war begins as Japanese bombs start falling on their beloved Shanghai... The girls' flight from China brings them together in a way that nothing else ever could.
Unfortunately, despite all of their trials, I never really got to the point where I could care about what happened to the characters. Perhaps it was done intentionally by the author to represent the Chinese aversion to touching, but overall, the book seemed flat, empty, and depressing, and the ending left me dissatisfied. I didn't realize it was over until I turned the last page and found that there wasn't any more ("That's it?" I thought). There seemed like there should be another chapter at least, because there were a lot of loose ends. Not really worth reading; much less actually buying.

you say goodbye, i say hello

old phone... phone!

(it seems like everyone and their mom has the same phone as me; but that's okay... I'm definitely pleased with it!)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Book Review: Airborn

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel is my very first venture into the steampunk genre. (I've known of steampunk for several years, but hadn't been interested in it at all--until now.) The book is set on an airship called the Aurora, which gets its lift from the fictional gas hydrium. The main character (and narrator), fifteen-year-old Matt Cruse, is the ship's cabin boy. He is an extremely likable character--funny, daring, and easy to relate to. This last point deserves a bit more attention, as your average fifteen-year-old probably isn't a cabin boy, and he certainly wouldn't one on a luxury airship. Oppel has done an especially good job with this particular character, as well as the other main and support characters (I enjoyed the Captain and crazy Chef Vlad in particular).

It's been long time since I've read a new book that appealed to me as much as this well-written adventure. It's fast-paced, with action scenes in just the right places, and the technicalities of the airship aren't done to the point of incomprehension. The excellent way that Oppel has penned Airborn makes Matt Cruse's story completely believable, as well as a must-read (and for me, a must-own!).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book Review: A Fairy Went A-Marketing

This beautifully illustrated version of Rose Fyleman's original poem is a nice change of pace from the ordinary. The artist, Jamichael Henterly, draws his inspiration from nature and creates a beautiful fantasy world. This is one of my favorite books from my childhood, so I'm a little biased in its favor... but if you can find it, the illustrations are wonderful!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Book Review: When the Sun Rose

This was one of my very favorite books as a child, and I still love it now because the illustrations are beautiful. The storyline is simple but very sweet: A little girl invites a lovely friend overy to her playhouse for an afternoon of painting, tea, and dolls. The illustrations are rich, vibrant, and colorful, and you can almost feel the warmth of the yellow roses and sunlight that are shown in the book.