V - The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland

>> Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I’ve had this book on my list for a long time. I really enjoyed “The Girl in Hyacinth Blue”. As did that one and “The Girl With a Pearl Earring”, this book creates an interesting background to go with real paintings. Some of it is based on fact and some invented. Although I spent time in Italy when I was in college, I’d never heard of the real Artemisia. Raped, tortured, and betrayed by her father, she went on to become the first woman to paint large scale historical and religious paintings and the first woman to be admitted into the Accademia dell' Arte del Disegno in Florence in the 17th century. The story Vreeland wrote is beautifully written and quite interesting. Don’t let the grim opening deter you. Artemisia is a survivor who is way ahead of her time. The author’s website which has pictures of the paintings described in the book is a valuable link to keep handy when reading this one.

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U – Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger

>> Friday, August 25, 2006

This debut is getting some good reviews, so I gave it a try. It definitely held my interest much better than my previous book, but that was no real challenge. On page 15 I thought I had at least part of the mystery figured out. At the halfway point, I hadn’t changed my mind, but had expanded on that basic idea based on what I’d learned so far. Every character seems to have a hidden secret. Finding the truth behind all of those kept me reading even though I was sure my initial impression was correct. I also wanted to find out of there would be some late breaking plot twist that would prove my theory wrong (there wasn’t). I’d have to categorize this one as average and interesting, but not compelling.

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T – Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy E. Turner

>> Tuesday, August 22, 2006

This one ended up being another “2nd book Letdown” for me. I loved her first one, “These is My Words”. This sequel fell flat for me. It doesn’t have the diary feel of “These is My Words” even though the chapters are headed by dates. The characters, even the familiar ones, seem to be only half there. Sarah has crisis after crisis, but when even the bad guys are kind of written in a way that makes them seem a bit bland, it’s hard to get involved in the story. Even with so much happening to Sarah and everyone she knows, the book still felt slow paced.

I think my struggle with reading this book was partly a timing factor. I know that how I feel about a book is tied to when and where I read it as well as my mood at the time and how distracted I am with the rest of my life. That's part of the reason I don't rate books with a numerical rating. The timing of when I read a book has such an impact on my rating that I would often rate a book quite differently if I read it some other time. With this particular book, I started it while we were on vacation. Normally that means lots of relaxed reading time, however this vacation did not lend itself to that. We were busy doing other stuff!! Perhaps there's a factor of having my time with this book chopped up into small pieces that kept me from getting involved with the characters and story. Or not.

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Vacation Audiobooks

>> Friday, August 18, 2006

I didn’t get a lot of reading time while we were on vacation, so I’m only about halfway through Sarah’s Quilt right now. No reading because we were too busy having fun doing other stuff. We did get a lot of audiobook time while driving, however. We listened to 2 books while on the road.

The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare by Lilian Jackson Braun
I believe this is the 7th or 8th in this series and it’s a great series for listening to on road trips. Lots of fun characters and cat quirks.

Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich
Another great road trip series. Stephanie and her entourage were (as always) a total crackup.

One bonus from vacation was a stop at a totally awesome independent bookstore in Mendocino, CA (OK so it was two stops in the store - I had to go back). Gallery Bookshop and Bookwinkle's Children's Books -trust me - if you're ever near Mendocino don't miss it.

http://www.gallerybooks.com/

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S – All is Vanity by Christina Schwarz

>> Saturday, August 12, 2006

I thought her first book, Drowning Ruth, was wonderful and could hardly put it down. I was really hoping that this one did not fall into the “2nd book Letdown” category. At just under the halfway point, I was concerned because although I felt she was building up to something that could be really good, I was wishing she would just get on with it. The second half finally took off. The story is about a would be novelist who uses her friend’s downward spiral into consumerism and keeping up with the Jones’s as the subject of her novel. It’s a dark satire on how the overly image conscious and materialistic can get in over their heads. It wasn’t nearly as compelling as Drowning Ruth. The first half could easily have been the first third or even quarter, the second half is where the story really takes off as things spin out of control for both main characters.

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Audiobook - Miss Julia Hits the Road by Ann B. Ross

>> Thursday, August 10, 2006

I've read the first three books in the Miss Julia series and liked them. The first two were with a book club and the third I read later. This is the first one I've listened to and I enjoyed it very much. Claudia Hughes read it and her voices did not seem 'wrong' to me after having my own impressions of what these characters should sound like. I'll likely continue the series as audiobooks later on. It's not a series I'd want to read back to back, but when you need a gentle, humorous comedy of manners, this series is a fun one.

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R – Julie and Romeo Get Lucky by Jeanne Ray

>> Tuesday, August 8, 2006

This is a sequel to the thoroughly enjoyable Julie and Romeo which I read last year. All of Jeanne Ray’s books have been sweet, funny, charming and quick reads. This one was just as light and entertaining as the others. Sure, I could go on about the spoiled rotten characters and the way Julie lets her family take advantage of her, but I picked up this book for a quick light read and it gave me a few laugh out loud moments along the way so I’m not going to worry about the negative parts. It’s not worth it in a book that reads this quickly. Overall, it wasn’t quite as good as Ray’s other books, but I’m not sorry I read it and I may never be able to watch the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory again without wanting to buy a lottery ticket.

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Q - How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen

>> Sunday, August 6, 2006

This one barely qualifies as a book at only 84 pages, but I first saw this in a bookstore in Cannon Beach several years ago and almost bought it then. I’ve picked it up several times since, so now was a good time to go ahead and read it. This book brought back many memories of my own childhood as a booklover. It also reinforced that for many of us reading is not the passive activity some folks believe it to be. I found many quotable passages in this book and although I got this from the library, I may have to buy a copy so I can re-read it often. I think any booklover will find a bit of thier own history in this little book.

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P – Second Glance by Jodi Picoult

>> Friday, August 4, 2006

This is another interesting book by Picoult. It’s partly a ghost story involving an old burial ground and strange happenings in the nearby town. It’s partly a love story about lost and new love. It’s also a bit of a mystery about what really happened back in 1932. Then, there’s the intrigue of just how do all of these people end up being connected? Convoluted at first, too coincidental at times, but still a very enjoyable book.

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