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Sunday, October 21, 2012

What I've Been Reading - October 2012

I am sooo sooo sooo behind on my blogging.
I notice I never changed my monthly goals on my blog side bar to October, and my last post was a month ago!
I'm behind because we just had a 2 week Fall Break which included a trip to Hawaii!
I've been next to my iPhone, but not near the computer much.
I vow to get caught up this week.
But first, I wanted to share the books that I've been reading since my last post.
Sometimes on vacation I find that I don't have a lot of reading time, but this month I did.
So let me share my latest reads with you (and my vote for worst book cover of 2012!)...
photo source
Last month I shared my unabashed joy in the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter.  I think it's smartly written and I would happily encourage my tween/teen daughters to read it - if I had any daughters.  I'm sure there is a male version of this series - it seems like something my twelve year old would absolutely love. 
I finished the third and fourth books this month.  While both were really good, I loved the fourth.  Can't wait to pick up the fifth at the library this week.  And then I'll have to wait patiently like everyone else for the 6th to become available next year!
One sentence synopsis from goodreads.com - In this (third and) fourth installment of the New York Times best-selling series, the Gallagher Girls must hack, spy, steal, and lie their way to the truth as they go searching for answers, recognizing that the key to Cammie’s future may lie deep in the past.
 Loved Them
It is against my nature to say anything negative about Jane Austen. 
The creator of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley?  I want to attend a ball at Netherfield.  And pick strawberries at Donwell Abbey.  And eat olives at Mrs. Jenning's London home! 
But, I had a very hard time getting through Mansfield Park, and nearly stopped reading it several times.  But it's our Litwits (night time book club) November read so I tried to stay focused.
It was a struggle to pick up each day, forcing myself to read just a little at a time, thrilled when I finished.   Unlike Pride and Prejudice and Emma (the other two Austen novels I've read), I did not get lost in the characters, story, or language. I did not relate to any of the characters truly, although I was pulling for Fanny and Edmund because I enjoyed them in the movie.  Maybe I'll try again another time.
One sentence synopsis from goodreads.com - Taken from the poverty of her parents' home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally.
Didn't Like It
In Hawaii we visited Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii.  It was a wonderful experience - I hadn't been there since 1988 and interestingly there were quite a few volcanic changes since then.  The day-long tour of the island piqued my interest so I picked up this book at the Kilauea Visitor's Center and learned quite a bit.  There was a lot of detailed description of how volcanoes form, how the Hawaiian islands became inhabitable landmasses, and the various stages of volcanic development.  I wish there had been drawings depicting some of the movement and descriptions, but the photographs were gorgeous.
One sentence synopsis from goodreads.com - The text and images of this book take a sweeping view of the world of Hawaii and its volcanoes.
Liked  It

The Happiness Project was a gift, and I was so excited to receive it this month.  I had heard a lot about it, but I had not been motivated to pick it up.  All that changed when I heard my friend's great review.  In fact, it got me thinking about doing my own Happiness Project!  Now to find a couple of friends to join me! 
The author is a previous clerk for Sandra Day O'Connor.  She quit the legal world to become a full-time author, living with her husband and two young girls in New York City.  She uses her legal research expertise to learn all she can from authors and philosophers on the nature of Happiness.  She spends a year making small changes in her own life to lead to happier personal, family, and professional lives.  I was inspired by Gretchen and spent a lot of time thinking about my own experiences while reading this book on vacation.
One sentence synopsis from goodreads.com - With humor and insight, she chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.
Really Liked It
And now for something different - two books that I decided not to finish.

 Much like my lamentation over Jane Austen above, it pains me to give J.K. Rowling anything but a glowing recommendation.  You know we are big Harry Potter fans here.  I was excited about her first non-HP book, and was open to its very different theme.  I wasn't disappointed that there were no wizards or wands, but suburbs and social workers.  I knew it was a complete departure and I was fine with that.  I took this heavy hardback on vacation, ready to dive in.
After page 204, I stopped reading it and packed it away.  The departure was not only in theme, but in quality of writing.  The story lacked an obvious plot and felt rather vapid to me unfortunately. Maybe I didn't give it enough time.  But I put it down and didn't look back.  After 4 days I can't remember a single character's name.  I do feel like I should give it another shot, and I will if someone in either of my Book Clubs selects it for a future month's read.  Disappointed, but willing to try again one day because of my admiration for Ms. Rowling.
P.S. - my vote for worst book cover
One sentence synopsis from goodreads.com - When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.
Didn't Finish It
Ugh.  I have read most stories that Janet Evanovich has written.  I've read every one of the Stephanie Plum novels, and a few of her earlier ones that she re-released.  What is it this month?  I am sad to say, this is another book by a popular author that I just didn't care for.  In fact, I got about 4 chapters in and decided to hand off this airport bookstore purchase to a friend who I think will like it more than me. 
This is book 1 in a new series - the Lizzy and Diesel series.
My main reasons for not finishing the book - two of the main characters are vampires or something, and it got silly by page 2.  The quirkiness is cute in the Stephanie Plum books, but here it just came across as silly.  I just don't have the patience I guess.  I really wanted a light, fun read for the plane, but this was a little over the top for me.  Ah well.
One sentence synopsis from goodreads.com - With delectable characters and non-stop thrills that have made Janet Evanovich a household name, Wicked Appetite will leave you hungry for more.
Didn't Finish It
And that's what I've Been Reading this month!

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