Tuesday, February 09, 2010

books 2010 #1-8

Life is hard again. Lucas and Eva both relapsed into fever and congestion, which means that they are not getting much sleep, and neither am I. I took them to the doctor and they both have sinus infections. Damn Winter inversion!!

I'm exhausted and not very productive. I don't really feel like blogging, but it bugs me when I have the same post up for multiple days. So, I decided to post about the books I have read so far this year (because I already had a draft going).

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm vacillating between 3 and 4 stars on this one.

Here's the thing. I know I would have enjoyed The Hunger Games a LOT more had I not seen the Japanese movie Battle Royale. The premise (teens taken forcibly by the government to a remote location and forced to battle to the death, leaving a lone survivor) is so similar that it definitely detracted from the novelty of it all.

That said, the plot is fascinating and well-paced, the characters enjoyable, and this book explores themes of dealing with authority, humanity, friendship, rebellion, love, survival. I really did like Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, and Cinna.

A fun, quick read, and if you haven't seen Battle Royale, you will probably like it more than me!

Gentlemen and Players: A Novel (P.S.) Gentlemen and Players: A Novel by Joanne Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a real departure from the other books I've read by Joanne Harris, and I thought she handled the mystery and suspense beautifully.

The setting is an all-boys private school in England, where there is an undercurrent of change, and not for the better. A criminal mastermind is at work, creating small annoyances that quickly snowball to larger problems that leave reputations and lives hanging in the balance.

Nice plot twists that I didn't see coming.

Apples for Jam: A Colorful Cookbook Apples for Jam: A Colorful Cookbook by Tessa Kiros

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Such a beautiful cookbook! All the recipes are organized by color, which I've never seen before, and I enjoyed the photos, drawings, and little anecdotes. Highly readable, which is a big plus for cookbooks. I've only made 3 recipes so far, but they all were very good.

Catching Fire (Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Again vacillating between 3 and 4 stars. I decided on 4 because I was compelled to read it and finished it in 2 days, so it's definitely a page-turner.

This had some good plot twists and took things in a direction I didn't see coming, which is always welcome. I definitely enjoyed the character development, as we get to know Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, and even Katniss's mother better.

I just wish it didn't end on such a cliffhanger! All the better to get you waiting for volume 3.

The Yellow Wall-Paper The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm kind of surprised that I hadn't heard of this work until recently. This short story chronicles one woman's descent into madness. When her physician husband prescribes rest and solitude as the cure for her post-partum depression, she wants to believe that he knows what he's talking about.He doesn't.She is confined to the room with the yellow wallpaper and she sinks fast. Creepy, and all the more so because it seems so real.

The Help The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was between 4 and 5 stars on this one. I don't think it's among my favorite books ever, but it was still a highly enjoyable read, and one I'd definitely recommend to just about anyone.

The whole time I read this book, which is set in the South in the early 60s, I could not get over how recent this all was. It's just so unbelievable that people could be so openly racist, so cruel -- with no repercussions -- and that it wasn't even very long ago.

And the irony! Did they really not see the conflict between saying that you could not teach blacks to be clean, and yet they hired these supposedly unclean people to clean their homes, cook their food, and raise their children?! It's mind boggling.

I absolutely loved the characters of Aibileen and Minny, and Skeeter wasn't far behind. Hilly was one of those people that is so manipulative, self-serving, and abominable that you can hardly believe it.

My favorite thing of all was that Aibileen discovered she had a gift for loving children, and for helping them to feel special, to feel good about themselves. Every time she would tell Mae Mobley her "secret stories," I would feel there was hope for the future.

Real World Adobe Illustrator CS3 (Real World) Real World Adobe Illustrator CS3 by Mordy Golding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very useful tome for learning Illustrator (one of my goals this year) -- I only wish I didn't have to return it to the library! This might be one I need to buy.

Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students (Design Briefs) Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students by Ellen Lupton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My first response to this book was that it was a little on the technical side for me. Then I saw in other readers' reviews that it was good but a little too simplistic. Huh. Well I guess I'm just a type neophyte, then.

I think I was hoping to be more inspired by the book. I was inspired, but in more subtle ways than I expected. I did learn things that I didn't know about typefaces, and I enjoyed seeing visual representations of the type in text.

My favorite sections were on grids and hierarchy.

View all my reviews >>


Neighbor Jane Payne said...

I appreciate your reviews, Michelle. Very much. Thank you for taking the time to post them. I'll definitely take these recommendations into consideration when I choose books.

rebekah said...

Oh I LOVE Yellow Wallpaper! Probably hitting a bit too close to home right now, eh?

Jill said...

What in the world? I shouldn't be surprised by the kids' relapse into sickness, and yet I am. When does it ever really end? I don't know how you function, I really don't. The sleep deprivation, the whining, the Smotherhood...you're stronger than I!

Anne said...

I've heard so many things about Hunger Games, I really should just read them already!

I'll be crossing my fingers for healthier days and full nights sleeps in your house!

Melinda said...

Sorry to hear about the kids sick. Mine are dealing with the almost the same things. We just don't have the fevers. Hope you get some sleep.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered some natural medicines (homeopathic)? Little things like remembering dairy don't help the healing process when you are congested, might help you out. There are natural path doctors that can be very helpful (when you feel like you are recycling the same sickness over & over). You can find out a lot online too about natural healing. I would suggest melatonin for those sleepless nights. It won't hurt the kids either.

Thank you for the book reviews. I am curious about the Yellow Wallpaper now.

Michelle said...

Oh, man! I'm so sorry the kids are sick - you feel badly for them, but after awhile you just wish they would sleep until they are well!

I absolutely love the book reviews. The Help is an all time favorite for me. I just started Hunger Games and have the Joanne Harris book waiting in the wings.

The wallpaper one I may beg to borrow.

shannon said...

OK...I totally slammed through book one and two of The Hunger Games...I'm not usually a sci-fi fan, but I found both to be a good read...

At our last book club, someone mentioned The Yellow Wallpaper...and now, with your 4star rating, I am anxious to read that!

I also can't wait to read, The Help--

I love being in the midst of a good book! I've got to get all of my reading in before spring/summer hits...I never have time when it's lawn mowing/garden season!

Amy said...

I can't believe you've read so many books this year! I love your reviews. I don't know how you find so many books!

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