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Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in Weekly Reads and Reviews for Book Lovers' LiveJournal:

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004
2:42 pm
Another Book Update
Hi, I finished my other book, so now I can post about it.

Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence
by Rosalind Wiseman

This book is a MUST read for anyone and everyone. If you have kids, if you don't and aren't planning on having any, if you've already had and raised them. The reason is that while this book mostly looks at Girl World (and briefly at Boy World), it is an interesting commentary on why males and females have certain ideas and why the act in certain ways in adulthood. It's also a good example of how to have challenging conversations with people in supportive ways. My favorite part of the book I'd say was the suggestion that higher self confidence and self esteem are a result of good social functioning skills, rather than vice versa. That just really rang true for me. This is a book I'll be reading again and again.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Monday, December 20th, 2004
12:08 pm
Late Book Reviews
I've slacked. This is no big surprise. But better late than never.

More than a month ago I read The Magus by John Fowles. Honestly, I'd never even heard of it before, but it was on Random House's list of the 100 Best Novels. So I picked it up. It was probably one of the most unique stories I'd ever read. It was House of Leaves kinda weird. But weird was definitely good in this case. It's a post WWII story about a young man from London who is trying to figure out who he is an what to do with his life. He meets a girl in London who compliments him well, but then me moves to a small island in Greece for a teaching job and his life completely changes. He meets a rich but secluded inhabitant of the island who makes him question his mind and reality with a series of lies and different actors. This is one book where the story continually changes, partially because you never know what part of the story that you believed is based on a lie. It's a very long book, and a love story as well. It also is a great book to make you think about reality and how much perception shapes it.

In one day when I was in San Francisco, I read one of Tomas's books called Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. This is Book 1 of the Artemis Fowl series. It's a very good book if you like Fantasy, as it takes place both in the real world, and the underground world of the fairies and their magical world. Artemis is the son and heir to the Fowls, a very rich, and disreputable family. But for a 12 year old, he's basically a criminal mastermind. The story moves quickly back and forth bewtween the two worlds, and I would recommend this to a young adult especially. I would like to read the other books in the series eventually.

And finally, the most recent book I've read (completely) is a book that Tomas lent me when I came home called Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede which is another fantasy book, with witches, wizards, dragons, etc. It's a terribly cute book. That's the best way I can describe it. The young hero Daystar goes off in the Enchanted Forrest after his mother gives him an enchanted sword, trying to find something, although she does not tell him what. On his way he makes friends with a firewitch named Shiara and a young dragon. This is book 4 of a series, and is only a grade 4 reading level, so it's another good kids book. But it was definitely cute to read.

I'm currently still trying to finish Queen Bee's & Wannabes so I'll put my review of that up once I'm completely done. But it's definitely a good book that everyone should read. Even if you don't have kids.

Current Mood: blah
Monday, November 15th, 2004
9:05 am
"Otherland" by Tad Williams.
This was a 4 part book, cyberpunk/mystery/sci-fi genre. I wouldnt call it a series, cause its really like One loooong book (as in 3500 pages) broken down into four. You cant read like, the first 1 or 2 or 3, and be content to not finish it. or even take a pause (at least I wasnt). Intricate book. Thru-out the first 2 or 3 books, you are gradually being introduced to new characters and stories, not all of which ever really connect or meet, but are still relevant to the underlying Otherland theme. Some people are literally in Otherland...some have never even heard of it. And dont until like the last chapter. Normally I think this would make for a very complicated/confusing book, but because they were spaced at at decent intervals, letting you get comfortable w/ new characters and sub story lines, in the space of sometimes several hundred pages, it felt very comfortable. Depsite the amount of characters, you really had a feel for each one. The author did not cheap out on character development, nor in the creation of the various worlds in Otherland. A really vivid read. If it wasnt 3500 pages long, Id prolly read it again. Its one of those books I wished would never end.
Next Im gonna read "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell".

In addition...

...I watched "The Stepford Wives". Visually appealing (I wanna be a Stepford hottie!), but the plot is kidna weak...the book is MUCH better. The book is like way more "conspiracy/mystery" feeling, with a definite feminist edge, or more accurately fear of pro-feminist sentiments (it was written in the 60s i believe). I dunno...the movie just feels a ton more shallow, and alot of things were changed (but I liked the addition of the gay couple. That was funny). So basically Im saying - if you've seen the movie and didnt like it, dont assume the book is just as crappy, cause really its a pretty good read. I read it in like one sitting, I couldnt put it down!
Monday, October 11th, 2004
9:33 am
Recent Books
The more recent books I've just finished are: Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham and Animal Farm by George Orwell. Here are my reviews:

Of Human Bondage
This book took me a while to read, because of the old english and small print. It's about a boy called Phillip who goes to live with his aunt and uncle after his parents are both dead in the early 1900s in England. It took me a little while to get into the story, but once you can get past Phillip's growing up and finishing with grammar school, that's when things get more interesting. It's very interesting, as Phillip while not rich, is brought up a gentleman of some means, and goes on trying to find himself, what he wants to be, and understanding the human condition. He explores love, friendship, money hardships and travels to Germany and France. I think one of the best things about this book was when Phillip falls for a girl named Mildred and how it affects and changes his life in so many ways. I wouldn't recommend this book to lighter readers, but for those of you really interested in Period Literature or Stories about Human Nature, this is definitely a good one. Just stick with it.

Animal Farm
This is a very short book, only about 150 pages including pictures and larger sized print. If you read Orwell's 1984 and liked it, you'll definitely like this. It's a satire on human nature, as animals begin acting as humans do after overthrowing their human oppressors. This really struck a chord with me, much as 1984 did as it seems to apply to the society we're living in now. It's a quick and easy read, so I would really encourage all of you to pick it up.

Current Mood: uncomfortable
Tuesday, September 28th, 2004
2:21 pm
On to something a little more intellectual
So I finished my Harry Potter books. I read the Goblet of Fire in about a day, which is really good for a day I'm at work. This one was probably my favorite of all of them, although they seem to keep getting better as the continue. The only problem with them is the repeat stuff a lot, like the fact that harry is a Wizard and lives with his Muggle Aunt and Uncle who hate him. I somewhat understand this is used to refresh memories, and I guess in case people didn't read the first ones, but come on.

Anyways, I went to the library to return my 3 books, and came well prepared with a list of other stuff I'd like to read. I couldn't get Brave New World by Aldous Huxley or Catch-22 by Joseph Heller like I'd wanted to, but I did go the other 4 I was looking for:

Animal Farm by George Orwell
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
The Magus by John Fowles

I figure since these will take me a bit longer, but we'll see. I think I'll start with Of Human Bondage because while I figure it's not about real bondage, a girl can dream, can't she?

Current Mood: thug
Friday, September 24th, 2004
10:17 am
Needing Suggestions
So....I've been reading the Harry Potter Books at the moment. I've read the first and 5th books already, and I'm working on the last 50 pages or so of the 2nd book, which should be done today. Then I'll move on to the 3rd and 4th books. But after that, I don't know what to read. So I'm hoping for some suggestions. I'd like to read some literature or non-fiction as opposed to the more fun novels I've been reading lately. Just so you have an idea, here's some of the authors I've read, enjoyed:

Kurt Vonneghut
Ayn Rand
William Falkner
Al Franken
Ann Rice
James Redfield

I dunno. I've read a lot of stuff. I can't remember it all. Give me your ideas.


Current Mood: stumped
Wednesday, September 15th, 2004
10:58 am
Lots of Books from the Past Month or So...
I've been putting off my first review, cause I just didn't feel like it. But it's time to dig in. So I'm going to review 6 or so books I've read in the last month. Hope you all enjoy.

The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand
This was the 2nd Ayn Rand book I've read since I read Atlas Shrugged almost a year ago. I must say, I did like Atlas Shrugged more, but perhaps that was because I found it more romanticized. Regardless, this book is another example of Ojectivism, placing the individual and self before others. I liked it a lot. I read it at a time I really needed to. The best thing I'd say I took away from it was the idea that people should not look to others for their self worth, nor should they necessarily look to others to tell them what to do, but rather it is the self that is the most pure. It's a good mixture of storylines and a vast amount of characters, all surrounding the society and climate in the book. It takes place in the architecture world mostly in New York City, and I must say I now have a new respect for buildings. While I'm not about to go out and join Rand's group or whatever, the ideas she presents in her stories definitely have a way of ringing true. This is definitely an important piece of literature, although I probably would have read this prior to Atlas Shrugged. I definitely recommend it.

Naked - David Sedaris
I'd heard so many good things about Sedaris writing, that I did indeed have to pick up a book. I had seen a friend reading this particular one, so I decided this was the one I was going to start with. This book is basically a collection of stories from Sedaris's life, about his family and some of the interesting things he did while growing up. While I found some parts greatly funny, I just wasn't all that impressed. Although it did certainly leave me with a sense of nostalgia for my own family stories, I guess I prefer one more fluid story.

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balances look at the Right - Al Franken
I loved loved loved this book. It's hilarious, and not to mention highly informative. I learned a lot of stuff. I'm typically not one to read political books, it's just not my thing, but it was on sale at BJ's and I like Al Franken, so I gave it a try. I'm glad I did. I'm not going to make my mother read this before election day. The best part of this book, besides pointing out the lies the media and Right Wing Officials have told, was all the correction of false statements by the President, and other public figures. I mean, certainly, I wasn't going to vote for Bush in the upcoming election. But to see how very clearly he lies about so many things has me completely appalled. I'm with Mr. Franken in believing that if someone says something untrue, or incorrect, especially in the media, they should admit they lied or were wrong. But that doesn't happen. I will now chuckle every time I hear the words "liberal" and "media" together. This book also made me start thinking about the types of propagando and lies the Repulican Party and the Conservative Lying Media will be telling as we get closer to election day. I can say one thing for sure, if by some chance BUSH wins the election, I think we should demand a recount in every state and every county. This is a book everyone should read. It's definitely going to be my resource guide for how to not do things when I become the president one day.

These next 3 books are all by Dan Brown. I'll review each of them individually, and then give an overview of the author.

Angel & Demons - Dan Brown
This is the first appearance of the studious yet charming professor Robert Langdon. This books definitely has a great storyline, complete with all sorts of thrills, twists, and tons of action. Only Dan Brown can make the Catholic Church exciting. But seriously, there were a lot of neat ideas in this, plus tons of information about the Catholic Church, Artists of the past, the Illuminati, and religious icons. I think I read this book in about a day and a half, because I couldn't put it down. I would definitely read it before considering reading the Da Vinci Code, although it gives some background to the man character and his past.

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
For those of you who love conspiracy theories, mysteries, puzzles, and art, this book is for you. I hear that since this book came out, people have flocked to the Louvre and other historical places in Paris looking to visit the places Robert Langdon went to on this journey. This is the more famous of Brown's books, although I think I liked Angels & Demons more, but they both are extremely interesting especially as far as the ideas about the founding and history of the Catholic church and our ideas that come from the bible. This is probably one of the most important pieces of literature in the last couple of decades.

Digital Fortress - Dan Brown
A different arena all together, Digital Fortess go into a story about our own government, the information age, and code breaking. It was a view good book, although I'm not sure how much of it is ficitious and how much of it is based off of real information. If you like Cryptography, code breaking, and internet/email securites stories, you'll like this. It poses an importan question as to what is more important, the right to privacy, or the government's ability to protect us. This is an issue that while not exactly the same, is something we should be considering with bogus bills like the Patriot Act that in the "interest of safety" basically destory our rights to privacy.

Now, I said I would talk about Dan Brown's books as a whole, since I've just read 3 of them (I believe he's only written 4 or 5 so far). While I have liked each of his books, I've noticed they are rather formulaic, and that's kind of been bothering me. In each there is basically only one female character who is good and pure, extremely intelligent, and almost an exception to "the rules". She is always paired off with a brilliant bookish type man who turns out to be more than just brains. There's always a twist towards the end about who you think the bad guy(s) is/are, and the truth. And there is always at least one (or two) people with a disability or physical handicap that makes people underestimate them. Now, do these formulas work? Certainly. Did I enjoy the books? Very much so. But do I still kinda feel like Dan Brown cheated when he wrote these books? Kinda.

So that's that. Right now I'm reading The Laws of our Fathers by Scott Turow and am not very impressed, but whatever.

Current Mood: determined
Monday, September 13th, 2004
10:41 am
Later on today, I'm hoping to post some reviews of books that I've read recently. However, since having my son and doing that whole mother thing over the past two years, my reading rate has slowed down considerably. It generally takes me a month to read a book. Pathetic, I know, but that's just how it is.
This is just sort of a disclaimer since I guess I don't really fit the "weekly" description of weekly readers anymore.

Current Mood: awake
Friday, September 10th, 2004
2:58 pm
So my recent books, that I enjoyed. By the way, I am including a few graphic novels, cope.

Futureland- Walter Mosely- A loosely connected series of Cyberpunk stories, written by a pretty well respected detective novelist, known for the Easy Rawlins books. Interesting in a couple of ways, firstly the stories deal with race, and specifically the African American experience in a lot of ways. Much more so than almost any other near future sci-fi. Second the fact that the whole collection is cohesive even though they are all short stories there is an overarching plot to ferret out, and that ends loosely with a particularly unique little tale. Also in general the writing is done in a less didactic style than most science fiction and I think it strengthens the character based feeling. Admittedly that's probably a negative if you are into the whole world building aspect, but I found it a decent read.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland at the End of the World- Haruki Murakmi- A fascinating book that combines post modern storytelling, with a sort of western-eastern sensibility, also a sort of near future pseudo science fiction, but something else as well. It's more like a series of still experiences, where the chapters are almost vignettes. There is a cohesive plot, but it seems secondary to the moments, and the experiences, and in the end, the plot reflects that, with a resolution that isn't so much unsatisfying, as almost unnecessary, since the moments of the book were more important than any completion. Still if you don't mind the slightly odd style (probably helped by the fact that it is a translation) it's a great little book, and several scenes are touching on both an emotional and philosophical level. Plus the metafictional aspect is sort of fun to juggle over.

Oryx and Crake- Margret Atwood- A fantastic post apocalyptic jaunt, and a story with three very different but very fascinating characters. The story stays very close to those characters and does a good job of moving through an odd chronology while maintaining readability. The final plot elements, although heavily foreshadowed are still very very moving, and despite the alien environment, or perhaps because of it, the narrator is utterly human, and very easy to relate to. Crake and Oryx the titular characters are both enigmatic, but they are enigmatic in a way that makes every page they grace a curiosity you want to explore and understand.

Graphic Novels

David Boring- Daniel Clowes- From the creator of Ghost World, this is a strange little story about a perverted young man named David Boring. Told from his perspective it is the story of his life, and a series of relationships, as well as a possible biological weapons attack, and two gun fights. However the high point, and the main content, is in a sort of journal of sexual interest and exploits. David Boring is a man with very specific sexual taste and his whole life essentially amounts to the various meetings with and pursuits of women. In this sense the book is almost a voyeuristic pleasure, and despite the first person narration there is a curious inhumanity about David. He's a misanthrope not unlike Robert Crumb, and it's interesting to see his life for that very reason.

Lost at Sea- Bryan Lee O'Malley- A strange little tale of youth and self discovery with a narrator whose entire world exists within her head. Basically it's just a simple story about a girl coming to terms with who she is, and what friendship is, but on so many levels it is much more than that. Ethereal in a way that is hard to explain, it really has to be read to be understood at all, but it is a fantastic story both in content and execution and despite being one of the oldest stories in the book, it manages to be very fresh and defy a lot of comic book convention.

So go read them. And then be like, hey asshat I hated those books, why did you waste my time.
Thursday, September 9th, 2004
2:09 pm
Greetings and Welcome
Thanks for stopping by my nice and shiny new community. Isn't this exciting. Basically, I have many friends who are intellectual types who read that I commonly discuss books, authors, etc with. Myself, I read a lot, so I thought it would be a neat idea to do a weekly review of the books I've read so that other people could get into it and share ideas in one place. That idea sort of crystallized and a community was born. How very fabulous. This is that community. There really are no rules, except that everyone should be respectful of other people's opinions, and I would try not to put too many spoilers in your reviews. People want to be surprised when the read a book for the first time. If you're going to have a couple of spoilers, I suggest you put a warning in your post, and put the spoilers under a lj-cut.

Thanks so much, and enjoy. I'll try to update this myself about once a week. So far I'm on my 2nd book of the week, and I'll probably have another 2-3 done after the weekend is over. That's all for now.


Current Mood: enthralled
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