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June 30, 2007

Review: Triangle

Triangle by Katharine Weber
Genre: Literature
Pages: 242
Rating: 4.7

On one level, this novel is the "What really happened at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire?" historical semi-mystery that one would expect from the covers and blurbs. But it's also so much more. The novel focuses on the last living survivor of the fire, her granddaughter, the granddaughter's partner (a composer - there's some very interesting stuff here about the intersection of music and science), and an academic studying the fire. All of their feelings and motivations play out in different ways as they struggle to piece together what actually happened on that infamous day. One of the big "secrets" was pretty obvious to me from the beginning, but that didn't decrease my enjoyment of the book. A few things wrapped up a little too neatly at the very end, but other than that, I loved this novel.

Posted by Kat at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2007

Way Too Hot Wednesday Randoms

1. Is it fall yet? Please?

2. Since it isn't, I think I have decided to buy an air conditioner. I am somewhat bothered by the cost (both in money and energy) of this, but if the alternative is not sleeping all summer... well. That's not really a workable option.

3. I'm also buying a new computer. Very soon. Then I'll be able to show you pictures of knitting and Dewey again!

4. I do not seem to be appreciably less busy now that school is over. I have yet to figure out why this is.

5. I am gardening. It's exciting. (And yes, that's undoubtedly what's taking up some of the time.) I'll show you pictures of that soon too.

6. Seriously, I have had enough of the hot weather. Can we petition to make it stop?

Posted by Kat at 01:13 PM | Comments (10)

June 25, 2007

Review: Code Name Cassandra

Code Name Cassandra by Meg Cabot
Genre: Young adult, paranormal
Pages: 264
Rating: 4.2

This is the second in Cabot's 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU series. It was very similar to the first - practically identical in quality - but the plot was different and interesting enough to keep my attention. Starting out, Jess was not my favorite of Cabot's heroines, but she's been growing on me. In this book, she's a counselor at a summer camp for gifted child musicians and trying to hide her "Lightning Girl" past. My main complaint was that the love interest wasn't around much in this one, and I think the characters balance each other well, so it's better when they're interacting.

Posted by Kat at 01:09 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2007

The best site ever.

Okay, that's sort of a sweeping statement. But seriously. If you need help getting organized, or just like lists, make sure you check out Remember the Milk. I discovered it a few days ago, and I love it.

Posted by Kat at 06:29 PM | Comments (2)

June 07, 2007

Review: Salem Falls

Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
Genre: Literature
Pages: 434
Rating: 4.3

I loved Picoult's Plain Truth, so every once in a while, I read another of her novels, hoping to recapture the magic. It hasn't worked so far, although I did like Salem Falls better than My Sister's Keeper. Salem Falls is about what happens after a man falsely convicted of statutory rape finishes his prison sentence and tries to start a new life. Unsurprisingly, his past catches up with him and he becomes accused again. Picoult creates several interesting characters in this book, as well as several one-dimensional placeholders. The story quickly drew me in, but (as with My Sister's Keeper) the ending was unsatisfactory. Specifically, something major was revealed - maybe - on the very last page, but it was written in such a way that I couldn't tell whether it was deliberately left ambivalent or just unclear. I'll probably keep reading Picoult when the mood strikes, but I hope this "dumb ending" thing isn't a trend.

Posted by Kat at 08:54 AM | Comments (1)

Review: Tell Me a Riddle

Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen
Genre: Literature, short stories
Pages: 116
Rating: 4.5

I'd never heard of Tillie Olsen until a friend recommended this small book of four short stories. I was very impressed; the voice is both distinctive unto itself and slightly different in each story. "I Stand Here Ironing" was my favorite of the pieces, but they were all interesting. Olsen deals with issues of immigration, war, race, class, and more, generally from the point of view of women dealing with the way these issues and the "progress" of the twentieth century impact their lives and interpersonal relationships. If nothing else, you should read "I Stand Here Ironing," which tells the thoughts of a middle-aged working class mother as she irons her almost-grown-up daughter's dress.

Posted by Kat at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2007

Wednesday Catch-Up Randoms

1. I am starting to feel like I might, some day, catch up on sleep. Not yet, but some day. It's an improvement.

2. Sorry for the deluge of book reviews recently. I'm already posting SRP reviews on the SRP page, so I'm trying to catch up here. Hopefully I'll be caught up within a week or two. (Not too late to join the SRP. Comment if you need the link again or the password/help joining.)

3. I'm going through the UFO challenge participants to make sure I have recorded in which month(s) each has participated. When I finish, I'll post the names and months, and you can let me know if I missed something.

4. I really have been knitting, but still can't upload photos. (Yes, I tried.) Starting tomorrow, I'll do periodic State of the Knitting posts sans pictures, just so I'm saying something about it...

5. I'm trying to catch up on all of your blogs, but it's slow going. Work has been crazy. I miss you all!

Posted by Kat at 09:55 AM | Comments (2)

Review: The Secrets of Peaches

The Secrets of Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Genre: Young adult
Pages: 297
Rating: 4

This was that rare case: a sequel I liked slightly better than its predecessor. In most ways, The Secrets of Peaches is like Peaches - same characters, same tone, etc. As I mentioned in my review of Peaches, though, I got annoyed with the first book because it was so obvious that the characters were going to become friends, but they still took so horribly long to get there. The second book was more readable because the friendship was already established. I also liked that Anderson had the girls facing a mix of the issues from the first book as well as some new conflicts. The Secrets of Peaches was fun and both light and heartwarming at the same time; I look forward to seeing what Anderson does next.

Posted by Kat at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

Review: North by Northanger

North by Northanger by Carrie Bebris
Genre: Mystery, paranormal, historical (Regency)
Pages: 318
Rating: 4.1

This is the third in Bebris's series of paranormal mysteries featuring Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy. It wasn't as good as the first one, but was still enjoyable. I don't like most Austen continuations, but Bebris does a decent job, perhaps because her books are deliberately in a different genre, and so she doesn't try too hard to make herself sound exactly like Austen. One interesting feature of this series is that the main characters are always Elizabeth and Darcy, but characters from other Austen books are involved in each mystery. In this case, a friendship between Darcy's late mother and a former resident of Northanger Abbey is discovered, and their letters to each other form a large aspect of the mystery. In addition, various Bennets and Lady Catherine show up at Pemberley to confuse things and add a comic element. Overall, this series is an enjoyable read for Austen fans, but probably not for Austen purists.

Posted by Kat at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2007

Review: The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn

The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn by Janis Hallowell
Genre: Literature
Pages: 310
Rating: 4.4

A homeless man has a vision that a teen girl at a local restaurant is actually an incarnation of the Virgin Mary. He spreads his message, the media becomes involved - and then she begins to perform miracles. And then what? This novel shows the affects of these extraordinary events on the girl and the people around her. It's a very interesting concept, and Hallowell executes it well. The narration, which alternates between several main characters, has an ethereal quality that helps hide the literal "truth" and makes everything seem vaguely, but not quite, magical. In the midst of this mystical atmosphere, Hallowell tackles some interesting questions of faith, truth, and responsibility.

Posted by Kat at 09:25 AM | Comments (3)

June 01, 2007

Summer Reading 2007!

Today is the beginning of the Summer Reading Program in which I am participating, so I thought I'd mention it again in case anyone wants to play along. My goal for the summer (June 1 to August 31) is 30 books, three of which were written before 1900. This should be challenging but not TOO hard, considering that I read 13 books in May. I'm excited!

Posted by Kat at 09:49 AM | Comments (4)

Review: Love Walked In

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
Genre: Literature
Pages: 307
Rating: 4.9

I was skeptical about this book at first - a former coworker at the bookstore told me I had to read it, but we tend to have different taste. I expected generic chick lit, and was extremely surprised: it wasn't that at all. It was amazing. I adored it. I carried it around for days so I could read every chance I got. I loved it so much that I'm having a hard time articulating why, exactly. The writing was captivating, and I identified with both of the main characters in various ways. The chapters alternate between a young woman managing a coffee bar and a 12-year-old who has just been abandoned by her psychologically unstable mother*. In the 12-year-old's first chapter, she's making a list of her favorite literary orphans on the back of a worksheet at school. I knew at that moment that I would love this book.

Love Walked In starts out like a fairy tale: Cornelia's life changes forever when a Cary Grant lookalike walks into her cafe. But it doesn't go the obvious places where a fairy tale would go. It's more complex and therefore more likable. The ending does perhaps wrap up a bit too neatly, but it's way less fakely perfect than it could have been, so I forgave it. This is one that I'll be reading again and again, I'm sure.

* That circumstance has nothing to do with why I identified with the character. Just to clarify. :)

Posted by Kat at 09:40 AM | Comments (1)

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