books i heart (or just read)

i read. a lot. it’s basically all i do. let’s put it this way: i live in germany and don’t speak german, which isn’t a problem really because i don’t have any friends. so, yeah, as i said, i read a lot.

here’s where i rate the books i’ve read. i’ll add a few in here that are favorites from the past, but in general, i’ll add them each month, some months there’ll be more than others, but you get the idea.

if you haven’t read the book, i won’t be writing full plot descriptions or anything, but i might give away a few details… consider yourselves warned.

i welcome any and all suggestions – but i should tell you, there are very few “summer reading” type books that i’ll read (or whatever you want to call them – i loathe the term “chick lit”). but i’m always open.

november 2011 – may 2012

let’s just say i’ve been a little bit busy. doing what, you might ask? mostly growing a person. why does that impede my reading? or my blogging? well, i haven’t quite figured out the answer to that yet. but i took a little hiatus. and now i’m back (for how long? who knows.)

the alchemist’s daughter – katherine mcmahon                             ♥♥♥♥♥

this book was actually quite good and really interesting. i’m giving it three stars because the main character was so frustrating in so many ways and because it was sad in the sort of way that i’m not equipped to handle being pregnant.

the story is of a girl brought up by her father, who was an alchemist and only taught her about science and the natural world around her. she was isolated and therefore, naive in many ways. of course, the inevitable happens and the world is thrust upon her and she can’t cope. what makes me angry though is how no one else in the book seems to have any sympathy for her at all and she herself just never picks herself up and becomes the modern woman that absolutely has no place in that time or the novel, but that somehow i find myself wanting from her regardless.

basically, the book was really good, but so negative (in that thomas hardy sort of way, which i normally love, but somehow disturbed me this time). plus (slight spoiler alert), there’s a few “baby” incidents – miscarriages, dead babies, horrible birth stories with the mother dying, etc. not the thing i want to read about when contemplating my first birthing experience (aside from my own).

game of thrones – george r.r. martin                                                ♥♥♥♥♥

and by “game of thrones” i do mean the entire series, which has lead me to wonder what my baby has absorbed through my reading (healthy?) and also why anyone would do that to another human being – create a series, sell it in a four-book package and then not finish the freaking series. without giving anything away, every now and then i think about the ending to the latest book, a dance with dragons, and i get chills and i just stare blankly off into space, not really knowing what to do with myself.

there are few characters in that book who are just hands-down-awesome and for me, i would have to say the top two are absolutely jon snow and arya stark. enough said. i won’t connect those two thoughts just in case someone is reading this and hasn’t read them yet.

i will say that my husband has not read them (though i bought them for him for christmas) and now, watching the series, i am totally annoying. what can you do?

november 2011

the help – kathryn stockett                                                                ♥♥♥♥♥

again, a total “oprah book” (see hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet), but it was good (like so many of her books are, really). it was exactly what you would think it was – no surprises, but i laughed, i cried a lot and i thought it was well worth reading.

october 2011

(i believe i spent the month of october reading from the hips, the thinking woman’s guide to a better birth and what to expect when you’re expecting. i do not recommend the latter, but am not going to post any sort of review of them.)

hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet – jamie ford                         ♥♥♥♥♥

this book is fantastic and well, everyone has heard of it by now. in fact, i’m one of the last. one of the most surprising things to come out of this book is that i’ve now realized how many people were/are unaware of the japanese interment camps in the united states, which i find horrific (both the camps and the fact that there are so many people ignorant of them).

** best part: happy ending! you always expect these sort of “oprah” books (i know it wasn’t as she’s finished her show, but let’s be honest, it would have been) to be tearjerkers throughout and while i did cry (and oprah and i have that in common – i love a good cry), the ending was as it should be. call me naive, i don’t mind.

september 2011

the woodlanders – thomas hardy                                                        ♥♥♥♥♥

what can i say, it’s thomas hardy. who doesn’t love him? (i’m sure there are some people out there who don’t, but i can’t imagine i’d like them all too much…) this book didn’t have the same life-changing effect on me as some of his novels that i had the pleasure of reading early in my life, like tess of the d’urbervilles and jude the obscure, but the themes and obviously, environment, are similar.

on top of the story and wonderful characters, it’s such a pleasure to read a really well-written book, especially when so many contemporary novels rely on plot, story and devices to mask the fact that they aren’t written so well. also, i think the “lessons” (for lack of a better word) and especially the ending are completely applicable to now.

the mill on the floss – george eliot                                                      ♥♥♥♥♥

i was sooooo disappointed in this book! i mean, victorian novel by someone like george eliot, made into a bbc miniseries… that’s like right up my alley! but alas, the ending was just ridiculous. i mean, come on. they both get caught in a storm and drown??

aside from the ending, though, the characters were really interesting. except i kept wanting to slap maggie the whole time. you know when the right thing is just so obvious, and the character stubbornly refuses to act like a person? that’s how i felt about this book. it makes me angry just thinking about it.

of course, needless to say, really well-written and all that jazz.

the sixth lamentation – william brodrick                                             ♥♥♥♥

this book was good. if i could, i’d give it 3 1/2 red hearts, but i don’t know how to do that… so i most graciously rounded up.

my problem? the writing. it was okay, it was good even. but there were parts which were so obviously included just for their outcome and though they didn’t make sense at the time, when i finished the book, i realized, oh right, that happened because the author needed to fix this situation. not good writing.

however, i did cry. a lot. and as i said above, i like that. that’s why i bumped up the 3 1/2 hearts to 4.

little bee – chris cleave                                                                         ♥♥♥♥♥

i loved this book – and even though i doubt anyone is reading this and i am trying not to give too much away anyway, i completely believe (and adore) with what is written on the back:

once you have read it, you’ll want to tell your friends about it. when you do, please don’t tell them what happens. the magic is in how the story unfolds.

and it was magical. and i totally cried. and laughed out loud.

one day – david nicholls                                                                        ♥♥♥♥♥

this book was pretty good. not as good as everyone else in the world seems to think. and knowing all the time i read it that anne hathaway, who i love in general, is in it and is so inappropriate for the role of emma that it’s embarrassing, bothered me.

good beach reading.

the summer without men – siri hustvedt                                             ♥♥♥♥♥

there were parts i liked. but basically, it wasn’t even good beach reading. but i’m giving it two stars because the parts i liked, i really liked. there just weren’t that many of them. it was disappointing – i’ve heard a lot about siri hustvedt and i’ve been looking forward to reading something by her. i’ll give her another chance, but this one wasn’t good.

england made me – graham greene                                                     ♥♥♥♥♥

i should start by saying i LOVE graham greene. i was so surprised, i always thought he was one of those “serial writers” like… i don’t even know who they are. all those guys that are on the new york times bestseller list with a new book every month. then, my british roommate convinced me to read the end of the affair and i fell in love.

this, however, was not my favorite. it was good, but not my favorite. i definitely wouldn’t recommend it to someone who hasn’t read greene before.

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