Saturday, April 30, 2011

Monthly Wrap-Up: April 2011

Another month has passed me by! Since April will be over in just a few short hours, I figured that it would be a good time to do my monthly wrap up. While April seemed to drag on (mostly because of the lousy weather), I can't believe that the month is over!

Number of Books Read: 8 books
Review Done: 7 (I just finished The Invisible Bridge a few hours ago, so my review will be up shortly)
My Favorite Book from this month: Bossypants by Tina Fey. A truly hilarious book and one that I would recommend to anyone. I think it would be really hard to dislike this book!
My Least Favorite Book: The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink. It was difficult to get into, and while the premise of the book was great, I think it would be better as a movie.

All in all, not a bad month! Work is still chugging along, and I get to spend this upcoming month at a different restaurant, which might be a good break without actually taking a week of vacation. April has been a good month for catching up with old friends I, which is always great! I'm hoping to catch up with them in person, whether they come home for a weekend and we meet up for lunch, or I might go and visit them for a few days (how could I say no Disney World, my home?!? But that's a post for another day). I managed to save my money and not buy too many books this month, which is always great news for my bank account! I won a few through GoodReads giveaways (gotta love those!), and found some while digging through my mom's old books, all of which I will post about sometime this week. Like I said, not a bad month at all!

I hope that you had a wonderful April and here's hoping to a sunny May!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (4-27-11)

Happy Wednesday! Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's a way to highlight upcoming book releases and connect with other bloggers. My pick this week is 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson (release date: April 28, 2011 ... which is tomorrow).

By the end of World War II, Silvana is a ghost of the wife Janusz once had. She and their 7-year-old son Aurek travel from Poland to England to reunite their family--a family that has been separated for 6 years. That's where 22 Britannia Road, Amanda Hodgkinson's stunning debut novel, begins. As the past unfolds from multiple points of view, it becomes clear that despite their determination to make a fresh start, the hidden secrets of the past threaten to destroy Silvana and Janusz's dreams of becoming a family once again. The irreversible events that passed during their years of separation still linger, including the horrors of war, Janusz's betrayal by a love affair with another woman, and the devastating secret that Silvana will do anything to conceal. Hodgkinson's poetic voice is impossible to forget, and the shocking and hopeful ending of her remarkable historical novel will leave readers reeling--and satisfied. (from

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin

An Object of Beauty
Author: Steve Martin
Publisher: Grand Central
Published: November 23, 2010
Hardcover: 292 pages

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from Lacey Yeager charms men and women with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Lacey Yeager is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the NYC art world by storm. Groomed at Sotheby's and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders put before her, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallel the soaring heights--and, at times, the dark lows--of the art world and the country from the late 1990s through today.

My Thoughts: This book chronicles a young woman, Lacey Yeager's, rise through the New York City art world. From starting out in the basement of Sotheby's, growing and learning until she opens her own gallery. Knowing very little about the art world, but always curious, I found this book fascinating in this respect. Being a huge Sex and the City fan, I have seen the girls go to gallery openings and seen Charlotte's gallery, but didn't really know what all happened in this creative world. Learning the difference between uptown and downtown art was interesting and something that I hadn't considered before reading this book.

While the plot was interesting, the thing that I did not like was the point of view. The story is told from the perspective of Lacey's friend, who drifts in and out of her life and admits that he doesn't know everything that Lacey does. But the story was so detailed at some points, it didn't make sense that someone who casually observes this woman would know such details. Steve Martin would go back and forth between someone who is observing her and the omnipotent narrator. It was defintely distracting and did not add to the story at all. Overall, I found the book to be interesting and, if the narration was more consistent, I would have liked it even more. If you have ever wondered what the New York art scene would be like, then you should definitely check this book out.

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's Monday! What are you reading? (4-25-11)

It's Monday! What are you reading? This weekly meme is hosted by Shelia at Book Journey. It's really easy to participate: go over what you read last week, what you are currently reading, and what you plan to read this upcoming week. Pretty easy! I had a good week of reading, which was surprising since I was on a seven day stretch at work. So, here's what I read this week:

What I Finished Reading
Snow in August by Pete Hamill
An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin (review up later today or tomorrow)

What I Am Currently Reading
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

What I Plan to Read
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Barrel Fever by David Sedaris

What are you planning on reading this week? Leave a comment and let me know!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday! (4-22-11)

Happy Friday everyone! I hope that everyone is gearing up for a relaxing holiday weekend (I'm hoping for one, even though I will be working) and eating lots of candy! Since it's Friday, it's time for Follow Friday and Book Blog Hop. 

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and each week, she posts a question. You answer, post your link, and then visit other blogs and possible find some to follow! It's a great way to meet other bloggers and learn some more about the people who you already follow. This week's question is:

What is on your current playlist?
Right now, I'm really into Adele and Frank Sinatra (random, I know). I also really enjoy listening to the Glee soundtracks. Each album is like it's own playlist, with a good mix of music! And of course, Elton John ... I always have Elton playing somewhere!

The Book Blog Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books, where a question is posted every week and you respond, link up, then visit other blogs! This week's question is:

"If you find a book you love, do you hunt down other books by the same author?"

What a great question! For me, it depends. If I LOVED the book, then I will definitely hunt down other books by that author the next time I go shopping. But most likely, if I happen to stumble upon the books while shopping for other ones, as long as it's reasonably priced/marked down, then I get it. There are a lot of authors that I like but I don't hunt down other books by them.

Let me know what you are listening to/if you hunt down readers! Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Snow In August by Pete Hamill

Snow in August
Author: Pete Hamill
Publisher: Grand Central
Published: 1997
Paperback: 354 pages

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from Set in a working-class Brooklyn neighborhood in 1947, this poignant tale revolves around two of the most endearing characters in recent fiction: an 11-year-old Irish Catholic boy named Michael Devlin and Rabbi Judah Hirsch, a refugee from Prague.

My Thoughts: This novel revolves around Michael Devlin, a boy growing up in Brooklyn in 1947. His father died in the war, so he is the man of the house. He and his mother depend on one another to remain strong. Michael meets a rabbi, Judah Hirsch, one snowy day on his way to mass, and a friendship grows between the two and Michael teaches the rabbi English and all about baseball, and the rabbi teaches Michael about Yiddish and Jewish folklore.

This is a truly magical book, one that had me crying at points over what was happening to the characters. Seeing how some prejudices existed in America after World War II truly broke my heart but left me cheering for Michael and the rabbi to come out on top. While definitely a work of fiction, I felt like I was in Brooklyn with these to men, experiencing the excitement of Jackie Robinson joining the Dodgers; listening to Bing Crosby singing on the radio; sweating in the heat of summer. Pete Hamill's writing will definitely transport you back in time and make you feel as if you are living with Michael and his mother. I truly enjoyed this book and cannot wait to read another book from Hamill in the near future.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (4-20-11)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's a great way to highlight upcoming releases and books that we just can't wait to get our hands on!

With summer just around the corner (although I wish it were here already!), I'm definitely looking forward to some lighter reads. One that has caught my interest is Elin Hilderbrand's Silver Girl (expected release date: June 21, 2011).

Synopsis (from Meredith Martin Delinn just lost everything: her friends, her homes, her social standing - because her husband Freddy cheated rich investors out of billions of dollars.

Desperate and facing homelessness, Meredith receives a call from her old best friend, Constance Flute. Connie's had recent worries of her own, and the two depart for a summer on Nantucket in an attempt to heal. But the island can't offer complete escape, and they're plagued by new and old troubles alike. When Connie's brother Toby - Meredith's high school boyfriend - arrives, Meredith must reconcile the differences between the life she is leading and the life she could have had.

Set against the backdrop of a Nantucket summer, Elin Hilderbrand delivers a suspenseful story of the power of friendship, the pull of love, and the beauty of forgiveness.

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Anti-Romantic Child by Priscilla Gilman

The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy
Author: Priscilla Gilman
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: April 19, 2011
Source: won a copy from

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from With an emotionally resonant combination of memoir and literature, Wordsworth scholar Priscilla Gilman recounts the challenges of raising a son with hyperlexia, a developmental disorder neurologically counterpoint to dyslexia. Gilman explores the complexities of our hopes and expectations for our children and ourselves. With luminous prose and a searing, personal story evocative of "A Year of Magical Thinking" and "A Year of Reading Proust," Gilman's "The Anti-Romantic Child "is an unforgettable exploration of what happens when we lean to embrace the unexpected.

My Thoughts: While I am not a mother, nor do I plan to be one anytime soon, I found this book to be incredibly fascinating and Priscilla Gilman to be a beautiful writer. Gilman tells the story of her college studies and how she fell in love with Wordsworth, a poet who romanticizes childhood and innocence. When she discovers that she is first pregnant, she dreams of having this "Wordsworth-ian" child but is sadly disappointed when Benjamin arrives. He doesn't want to be held, doesn't want human interaction, just wants to be left alone. Gilman is worried that something is wrong with her child, but when he starts reading just after his first birthday, this English scholar is overjoyed. Believing him to be a  genius of some kind, she delights in his reading books and being able to spell words at such a young age. But when the search of nursery schools begins, teachers realize that there is something wrong with Benj and recommend Gilman take him for testing. This is where she discovers that he has hyperlexia, and her world is turned upside down.

Gilman tells her story beautifully with writing that grips you and makes you feel for her as a mother. Once again, I have no children of my own, but I could feel her dispair as a mother when Benj didn't want to be held, and her anguish at realizing that he isn't gifted, but has a disability. Gilman pulls you into her world of researching, learning, and adapting her life around Benj's hyperlexia. It is a story of adapting, one of a mother's struggle to give up the dream that she had for her child and to find the joy in her current situation. My only real complaint about the book is that the ending was rushed, and Gilman was hurrying to tie everything up in a nice little bow for the reader. The rest of the book was paced just right, but the ending left something to be desired.

For expectant mothers, mom's, teachers, this is a great book. Even if you don't fall into one of these categories, I would recommend picking up this wonderful book and learning about how parents cope when their children don't always meet their expectations.

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's Monday! What are you reading? (4-18-11)

It's Monday! What are you reading? This weekly meme is hosted by Shelia at Book Journey and is a great way to see what you have read this past week and what you plan to read next. 

This week was a pretty good reading week for me! I finished three books, finished two reviews, and didn't spend any money on books (which means I will probably spend too much this upcoming week, haha)!

Books I Finished This Week (links go to my reviews):
All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve
The Anti-Romantic Child (review will be up later today or tomorrow)

Currently Reading:
Snow in August by Pete Hamill

What I Plan to Read:
An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin

So, what are you reading this week?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Author: Tina Fey
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Published: April 5th, 2011
Hardcover: 275

My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin," Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty onSaturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon -- from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

(Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breastfeeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)

My Thoughts: When I first heard about Tina Fey's book (I even blogged about it!), I was very excited. I have always thought as Tina Fey as one of those women who is still down to earth, even though she is a major celebrity. She never takes herself too seriously, so I knew that this book would be something that I would have to read! Let me say this:  Bossypants will have you laughing outloud, sometimes holding your sides from laughing too hard, and you will learn something along the way. Whether it's soemthing about Fey as a person or about the entertainment industry or mothering, there is something here for everyone.

Each chapter is an essay, each with a funny title. Fey takes us back to what it was like growing up in Philadelphia, having a strong father figure, and her first boyfriend at a theater summer camp. She continues to her college years, her first couple of jobs, her stint with Second City (an improv troupe), and her interview for a writer on SNL. Fey never bogs you down with boring details; instead, she takes her experiences and delivers them in a sarcastic way that makes you laugh and look back on your own life experiences. To illustrate her points, Fey even includes some childhood photos ... highlighting fashion choices and bad haircuts.

Unless you are easily offended (I would rate this book a PG-13 if it were a movie), I don't think there is a person out there who wouldn't love this book. I read it in one day and wish that there was more to it! With summer right around the corner, this would make a great read for the beach, the pool, the backyard ... where ever you might find yourself this summer!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday! (4-16-11)

Happy Friday everyone! I hope that everyone had a great week and is ready for an exciting weekend ... I will be working, but oh well! I have been off the past 2 days, and it has been nice to just sit and read and enjoy the beautiful sunshine that has finally decided to come out! From Jen at Crazy for Book, here is this week's question:

 "Pick a character from a book you are currently reading or have just finished and tell us about him/her."

Well, I just finished Bossypants by Tina Fey last nite ... and it was hilarious! If you don't know who Tina Fey is, then here's a brief synopsis: she is the creator/executive producer/star of 30 Rock on NBC. She was a writer and actor and SNL for about 8 years. She's a mom, a comedienne, and an all-around cool lady. Her book had me laughing out loud so often ... make sure to check back sometime this weekend for a review! I don't know what else to say about Tina Fey, other than that she is a funny woman!

And this week's question from Parajunkee is:  Do you have anyone that you can discuss books with in real life? Tell us about him/her.

Well, I will talk about books with anyone and everyone. Even people who say that they don't like to read, I will just start telling them about the book that I am reading. My mom and I sometimes talk about the books that we are reading, but nothing really formal. It's mostly along the lines of, "I think that you would like this book." 

I hope that you have a happy Friday and happy hopping!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve

All He Ever Wanted
Author: Anita Shreve
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Published: 2004
Paperback: 310 pages

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from "Etna Bliss her just moved to the New England town where her uncle teaches college when her life is transformed in a single stroke. She is dining in a hotel downtown when a fire forces her to escape to the snowy streets outside. Amid the smoke and chaos of that night she is glimpsed, standing under a streetlight, by a man who was dining in the same room - a man who is so overwhelmed by the sight of her that he rebuilds his life around a single goal: to marry Etna Bliss." That man is Nicholas Van Tassel, and All He Ever Wanted is his account of how two lives changed from that tumultuous night forward. A proud and orderly man, Van Tassel is ill equipped to deal with the ferocity of love. But he is determined to have Etna, no matter what the cost. Riding a train south many years later, he unwinds his memories of the drama that followed and struggles to understand the mystery his life became on that night.

My Thoughts: As I was reading this book, one things kept coming to my mind: "My goodness, Anita Shreve writes so beautifully." Seriously, I felt like I was reading a poem at times, the writing is so descriptive and evocative of the character's feelings. While I believe that all of Shreve's books (at least the one's that I have read) are this way, here is just one example of what a beautiful writer she is:
     "Inspired by my brief visit to the Bliss residence, I set out with an ambition not equaled  
     in me before or since to win the hand of the woman whose voice and hair and skin 
     seemed to have permeated every membrane of my body and breached every boundary
     of my soul." (32)
This is just one example of many that I could have given. The simple feeling of attraction, Shreve makes into a poetic remark. It makes for a wonderful read, one that I feel at times is so indulgent because of the writing.

While the writing is beautiful, I felt that the story could have been stronger. The description of the book made it seem so intriguing, and while it was a good book, I just felt like there wasn't enough drama. The story is told from Nicholas' point of view, with him writing this as his memoir, looking back at this story some 30 years later. Nicholas is a strong character, one that I felt was a respectable person, even after what he did came to light. Etna, the woman he marries, is strong as well, and you feel her pull for something that few women at the turn of the 19th century had: freedom. I felt the story building between the two characters, and when I thought it would reach a climax, it fell short. Both are such strong characters that it seemed lackluster not to have something dramatic happen. I just felt a bit disappointed.

If you like Anita Shreve's writing style, then this book will not disappoint. But if you are looking for a story with a strong plot, then one of her other books would be a better choice.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (4-13-11)

Happy Wednesday, everyone! And since it is Wednesday, that means that it's time for Waiting on Wednesday! This weekly meme is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's a way to highlight upcoming releases and connect with other bloggers. This week, my pick is  The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin (expected publication: June 21, 2011)

Traveling abroad with her mother at the turn of the twentieth century to seek a titled husband, beautiful, vivacious Cora Cash, whose family mansion in Newport dwarfs the Vanderbilts’, suddenly finds herself Duchess of Wareham, married to Ivo, the most eligible bachelor in England. Nothing is quite as it seems, however: Ivo is withdrawn and secretive, and the English social scene is full of traps and betrayals. Money, Cora soon learns, cannot buy everything, as she must decide what is truly worth the price in her life and her marriage. (from

I am so in love with this cover! So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Emma by Jane Austen

Author: Jane Austen
Published: May 2001
Publisher: Random House
Paperback: 353 pages

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from Beautiful, clever, rich - and single - Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protégée Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen's most flawless work.

My Thoughts: I want to start off this review by saying that this was a great book. I truly enjoyed it, and there were moments of laughter and surprise throughout. However, I felt that this book could not compare to  Pride and Prejudice (at least for me), so that's why it received a 3.5 star rating. I know you shouldn't compare books like that, but I do. Oh well.

Emma is a great comic novel. Now, something that was written back in the 1800s has humor that is different from that of our humor today. But there were several points in the book where I was chuckling to myself at Emma and her attempts to create relationships among her friends. The writing is witty and the characters are never boring. I did sometimes become confused at who was who in their little town, but that was about it. I found each character to bring something different to the table, and Emma's interactions with each of them delightful. Some of the characters, such as Miss Bates, are there solely for humor. Each time she appeared in the book, I knew that Jane Austen was going to have a funny moment ahead. 

It was an enjoyable book, one that is definitely going to be staying on my bookshelf. As I said before, I did not feel that this book was as good as  Pride and Prejudice, but it is still a classic and one that I will be sure to recommend to anyone.

It's Monday! What are you reading? (4-11-11)

It's Monday! So what are you reading? This weekly meme is hosted by Shelia at Book Journey and it's a great way to see what you have read, what you are reading now, and what you plan to read later this week.

This week was a slow one for me. I finally finished Emma. I don't know why it took me so long to read, but that's the only thing that I have been reading this week. Definitely going to be some lighter choices the next few weeks (not that the book was heavy ... I just don't want to deal with Old English anymore, haha)

Books I Read This Week:
Emma by Jane Austen (review up later today)

Books I Plan to Read This Week:
All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve
Bossypants by Tina Fey

So, what are you reading this week?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

In My Mailbox (4-10-11)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. You get to show off all your finds/wins/borrows from the past week. This week, I got quite a few books, and my wishlist grew even longer (unforunate for my wallet, haha). The books that I purchased this week:


Bossypants by Tina Fey
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer
(I got this at Half-Priced Books, hardcover, for only $8! I was so excited!)

Book I won (this was from a few weeks ago, but I kept on forgetting to post it):

The Anti-Romantic Child by Priscilla Gilman

So, what was in your mailbox this week?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday!

Happy Friday everybody! Time for the book blog hop and Follow Friday! The Book Blog Hop question will be posted later today so make sure to check back later and see my answer to that question. In the meantime, this week's question from Parajunkee is:

Do you judge a book by it's cover?

Absolutely! I have no shame in admitting this. It's the cover of the book that will grab my eye. But I don't buy a book based on the cover alone. I will read the description on the back of the book, and I also read a few pages to see if I'm going to like it. If a book doesn't have a good cover, then chances are that I won't pick it up.

Do you judge a book by it's cover? Let me know!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (4-6-11)

Happy Wednesday everyone! Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's a way to highlight new releases and books that you just can't wait to read! This week, my pick is In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson (expected release date: May 10, 2011).

Synopsis (from The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.
A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance—and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.
Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming--yet wholly sinister--Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.

I have read Larson's other book, The Devil in the White City and couldn't believe at how it read like a work of fiction! I definitely cannot wait for this book to come out!

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (4-5-11)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic, and you get to create your own top ten list. It's a lot of fun, and a great way to get to know other bloggers. This week, the topic is book covers I wish I could redesign. I will try and hit 10, but no guarantees!

1) The Great Gatsby - I love this book, and for being an American classic, the cover is very confusing. The first time I saw this cover, I thought it was about a ghost named Gatsby.

2) The Twilight series - I don't know why, but these covers have never really appealed to me. Especially the cover for the fourth book, with the chess piece.

3) Jane Eyre - I have seen this version of Jane Eyre in several bookstores, and each time, it totally turns me off from the book. I just recently read it, and I feel like this cover does no justice to this classic.

5) These Things Hidden - I also read this book recently, and it wasn't because I liked the cover that I bought the book. It was because I had previously read the author ... after finishing the book, I just felt like the cover could have been better.

I can't think of anymore right now, but I know there are lots out there!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink

 The Weekend
Author: Bernhard Schlink
Translator: Shaun Whiteside
Publisher: Pantheon
Published: 2008 (translated version: 2010)
Hardcover: 215 pages

My Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from Old friends and lovers reunite for a weekend in a secluded country home after spending decades apart.
They excavate old memories and pass clandestine judgments on the wildly divergent paths they’ve taken since their youth. But this isn’t just any reunion, and their conversations about the old days aren’t your typical reminiscences: After twenty-four years, Jörg, a convicted murderer and terrorist, has been released from prison. The announcement of his pardon will send shock waves through the country, but before the announcement, his friends—some of whom were Baader-Meinhof sympathizers or those who clung to them—gather for his first weekend of freedom. They have been summoned by Jörg’s devoted sister, Christiane, whose concern for her brother’s safety is matched only by the unrelenting zeal of Marko, a young man intent on having Jörg continue to fight for the cause.

My Thoughts: I really didn't know what to expect from this book, so I went in with no expectations. I read the synopsis and thought that it sounded intriguing, and having read Bernhard Schlink's The Reader a few years ago, I thought that I might enjoy this work. Now, the 2.5 stars rating that I gave this book is a bit misleading. It's not that I didn't enjoy the book, but it wasn't something that had me rushing back to it. I felt no pull from the plot or characters, which is why it took me so long to finish. I think the plot for the book was a great one, with old friends reuniting after one of them has been released from a 20 year prison stay. How would they all interact? Would it be like the old times, or would it be awkward now? But there was no pull, nothing that made me want to know what happened.

Schlink's writing style reminds me a bit of Hemmingway, with short, descriptive sentences.  His writing did seem a bit jumpy to me in this one, and it took me abour 40 pages to figure out from whose point of view the story was being told. But he describes the setting so wonderfully, I felt like I was at this old house in the German countryside along with the characters. Schlink is also a master at not having an opinion on his characters. You are unable to tell if you should root for Jorg (the reformed convict and terrorist) or hope he winds up back in jail. It really is up to you to decide if the character is good or bad, and I believe that demonstrates the strength of Schlink's abilities as an author. 

There are a lot of characters in this book, and the German names sometimes had me confused as to who was married to whom and what the relationships were between the characters. I felt that each person contributed something to the story, an opinion that allowed you to constantly question yourself as to whether or not you like Jorg. For being such a short book with a large cast of characters, it's hard to say if there was any growth among them. I felt like there was some development with a few characters at the end of the book, but it felt too rushed.

The plot is great, and I felt like I was reading a movie script the whole time. In fact, if this were made into a movie, this would be one that I would want to see. It has all the makings of a great movie, with the cast of characters, the scenery, and the issues that each characters is battling.

It's Monday! What are you reading? (4-4-11)

Happy Monday everyone! What are you reading is a weekly meme, hosted by Shelia at Journey Through Books. It's really easy to participate and see what other bloggers are reading! Just write down what you read this past week, what you are currently reading, and what you plan to read this upcoming week! It was a slow reading week for me ... not sure why, but I just wasn't feeling it this week. Hopefully, I will be able to get back into the swing of things this week and make a bit more headway on my TBR pile!

What I Read This Past Week:

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (reviewed)

The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink (review will be up later today, maybe tomorrow)

What I Am Currently Reading

Emma by Jane Austen

What I Plan to Read This Week

All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve

So, what are you reading this week?