Emily P. (mizparker) - Reviews

1 to 20 of 88 - Page:
100 Strokes of the Brush Before Bed (Black Cat)
Review Date: 4/24/2009
Helpful Score: 2


The book that scandalized Italy! I wasn't so put off as some other readers by her age as I found myself feeling sorry for her - her view of men and attitude towards love and being loved is so typically that of a troubled teen girl. She confuses the search for love with meaningless sex, thinking that the way one finds love and respect is through giving oneself physically to strangers - a mistake that admittedly, a lot of young women make. Even at the end when she is imploring God that her new suitor deliver her from the terrible deviance and vileness that has been her life, I couldn't feel sorry for her - it is a life that she consciously sought at every corner, whether she believed that or not. Not a fan of women believing that they are victims of circumstance when they've brought it on themselves. Nonetheless, the story was mildly entertaining, if not at all erotic (in my opinion.)


The Accidental Tourist
The Accidental Tourist
Author: Anne Tyler
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 114
Review Date: 9/27/2008
Helpful Score: 3


I started out lukewarm with the book because I found the main character so stuffy and unrelatable to me, but as the book continued, I found Macon Leary less annoying than endearing, less stuffy than quirky. I enjoyed the story.


Angela's Ashes
Angela's Ashes
Author: Frank McCourt
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 209
Review Date: 10/5/2008
Helpful Score: 1


This is one that I won't post because I don't want to give it up. I've re-read it several times. Frank McCourt's autobiographical story of growing up poor in Ireland hits you, as they say, right here. Loved it.


Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, Bk 1)
Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, Bk 1)
Author: Dan Brown
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 3674
Review Date: 10/5/2008
Helpful Score: 2


I've read all four Dan Brown books, and this was my favorite. If you liked "The Da Vinci Code", this book, the prequel, was a hundred times better.

Fast-paced and set in Rome, you get a lesson in Roman and Vatican history - I'm sure I'm not the only one who wished she had a pass into the Vatican library after reading this - and you'll be kept on the edge of your seat to boot. The secret society featured in this novel is The Illuminati - an ancient society dedicated to taking down the Catholic Church. High-ranking Catholic priests being publicly murdered in increasingly horrific ways, all branded with mysterious symbols. Can Langdon stop the Illuminati and save the Vatican?


Are You There Vodka? It's Me Chelsea
Are You There Vodka? It's Me Chelsea
Author: Chelsea Handler
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 397
Review Date: 10/5/2008
Helpful Score: 6


This seemed like it would be right up my alley, as I am a fan of humor, memoirs, and everything this book is supposed to be. It tries for hilarious and relatable, but kind of falls short and ends up being crass and shallow. There are some funny parts, but the book is not laugh-out-loud, per se. I wouldn't read it again, nor would it be on the list of comedic memoirs that I recommend to anybody.


Atlas Shrugged
Atlas Shrugged
Author: Ayn Rand
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 340
Review Date: 10/5/2008
Helpful Score: 13


I tackled this (very thick) book because I have always thought of it as a modern classic - something I should suck it up and read, just for the experience. Perhaps not surprisingly, I really did enjoy it, and found myself sucked into the philosophy behind it. I keep eyeballing it on my shelf and thinking that I should re-read it, after which I will probably post it. Very good.

The book is based on the not-too-farfetched premise that all of the producers of the world - producers in the sense that these are the hardworking, brilliant, movers and shakers and people of ideas in the world - get fed up with carrying the metaphorical burden of society. "What if Atlas shrugged?" A reference, of course, to refusing to carry the weight of the world on one's shoulders. The producers band together and agree as one to stop producing, stop letting the idle and useless benefit from their ideas, and society be damned. I won't give away any more, but I'd be willing to bet that if the idea intrigues you, you will be sucked in as well.


Atonement
Atonement
Author: Ian McEwan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 886
Review Date: 2/12/2009
Helpful Score: 6


I can't decide whether I liked this book or didn't. The language is very flowery - so much so that you can skim entire pages and not miss what's going on. It was very easy to put down, but I was compelled to finish it. The story seems a little improbable - I understand that it was a different time, but I can't imagine the police taking the word of a child over the victim herself (who was unsure), and without investigating further. Some of the imagery is pretty stunning, and it was a good story, but probably not one I would re-read, or go out of my way to recommend. It reminded me of a play - not necessarily a bad thing. It would translate well to the theatre. Maybe I'm in a minority in my opinion about the brilliance of this book, but I was very lukewarm on it.


The Birth of Venus
The Birth of Venus
Author: Sarah Dunant
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 750
Review Date: 1/15/2009
Helpful Score: 1


This story sucks you in right from the first pages, which begin with the strange death of an aging nun with a serpent tattooed on her body and segue into the testimony of sister Lucrezia; an explanation of the nun which starts from the beginning, when she was a young Florentine girl who loved art. Lots of historical tidbits in this one, and it's a fascinating read. You think "Why is she dying? Why does a 16th-century nun have a snake tattoo?" and you can't stop reading on to find out. Highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction or just a good, entertaining story.


The Boleyn Inheritance
The Boleyn Inheritance
Author: Philippa Gregory
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 21
Review Date: 10/5/2008
Helpful Score: 1


I am admittedly fascinated by the Gregory Tudor series in part because I am distantly related to Henry VIII's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves (you know, the one he didn't behead.)

I really enjoyed this book - it chronicles the lives of Henry's wives post-Anne Boleyn, and how his getting away with having Boleyn beheaded set a very difficult stage for any woman unlucky enough to be the next queen. It skips third wife Jane Seymour (who died shortly after childbirth), and tells the story from three women's point of view - Anne of Cleves (wife #4), Katherine Howard (wife #5), and Jane Boleyn (nee Jane Parker, wife of executed Thomas Boleyn and sister-in-law of Anne Boleyn.) You find yourself alternately astonished at the expectations placed on courtiers during the time, and almost wishing you could befriend some of the characters. Great read for lovers of historical fiction.


The Book of Names
The Book of Names
Author: Karen Tintori, Jill Gregory
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.
 29
Review Date: 10/5/2008
Helpful Score: 3


I read this one almost in a sitting, I think in part because I'm a junkie for this genre - that is, religion-themed thrillers in the vein of Dan Brown, Steve Berry, etc.

The novel is about a man who sustained a head injury as a child and over his lifetime, has had random names he can't forget pop into his mind. Despite not knowing who the names belong to or what it means, he meticulously writes them in a notebook. He discovers later that he has inadvertently re-created the Book of Names - that is, the book Adam wrote in Eden listing the names of the righteous over the entire future history of the world. Kabbalists believe that there are thirty-six righteous souls per generation, and that world disasters are triggered when the righteous are killed. The protagonist must stop the other possessor of the Book of Names, who is systematically murdering the righteous in order to bring about the end of days. His task is further complicated when he discovers his daughter's name on the list...


Bridget Jones's Diary
Bridget Jones's Diary
Author: Helen Fielding
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 602
Review Date: 10/5/2008
Helpful Score: 1


What single girl can't relate to Bridget Jones, with her obsessive worrying over her size, diet, drinking habits, and boyfriend status? This is one I pick up and re-read from time to time, just to have a laugh. Her mother is impossible, her friends infectious, and her boss dreadful. A quick, easy, and entertaining "chick book." Like it a lot.


Cause Celeb
Cause Celeb
Author: Helen Fielding
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 110
Review Date: 9/27/2008


If you're looking for another "Bridget Jones", it is not. It is, however, pretty darn good anyway. It also gets one thinking about third-world issues in a non-threatening way, which I think is very positive. I had a hard time putting it down.


A Child Called 'It': One Child's Courage to Survive
A Child Called 'It': One Child's Courage to Survive
Author: Dave Pelzer
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1949
Review Date: 12/11/2008
Helpful Score: 2


My mother gave me this to read (along with the other two), saying it was a "must-read for anyone who works with children." As someone who taught school for 38 years, including during the time that Pelzer was in the school system, it was interesting to hear her perspective on being a teacher in the 1970's, where you were encouraged to mind your own business rather than speak up about suspected abuse on one of your students. As a result, it took years before Pelzer was rescued from his home. It makes you wonder if the process would have been a lot faster today (one hopes!)

The book makes you so angry at his mother for the horrific abuse, but even angrier at the people who stood by and allowed it to occur - certainly his father, but to a lesser extent his teachers and brothers. Even if you don't work with children, it is a wonderful story of the triumph of the human spirit. I'll be reading both follow-ups.


Choke
Choke
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 99
Review Date: 10/12/2008


I read this in anticipation of the upcoming movie. I liked it, but I didn't like it as well as either of the other two I've read by Palahniuk. It seemed a little forced, as a story, in comparison. For a first-time C.P. reader, I'd recommend Lullaby. Choke is a must-read for fans, but it won't make you fall in love.

Speaking of not falling in love, the first chapter explains that you won't love Victor Mancini, and it's right. It's not that you dislike the character, per se, it's that he's a non-entity in his own story, which perhaps is the point C.P. is trying to make with him. He's an addict without explaining the compulsion, a con artist without a satisfactory explanation why the con works (he isn't charming enough that I bought the con, coming from him), and he's quirky without ever really hitting endearing. Looking past the surface to the inherent nihilism in the story - none of us is really endearing or charming, or really ever has a reason behind anything we do - then it's fine. It doesn't strike me, however, that that's what the author was going for. Victor isn't absurdly quirky enough that he pulls off a commentary on extreme futility or nihilism. The result is that he falls flat as both a catalyst for social commentary and as a human being.

I will see the movie. The right actor could give Victor the charm needed to push this past a good story to a great story. Words alone didn't do it.


A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange
Author: Anthony Burgess
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 348
Review Date: 10/5/2008
Helpful Score: 2


I had the pleasure of reading the version with the (very snarky) foreword by Anthony Burgess. It seems that the movie version, and the version of the novel released in America, were missing the critical last chapter (a decision by the publisher), which gives 'A Clockwork Orange' a distinctly different feel. I highly recommend reading it, but if your copy has twenty chapters, it is missing the twenty-first. The twentieth chapter ends where the famed movie does; the twenty-first outlines "what happened next." It changes it into a different story.

That said, I was also fortunate that my husband had read it first, and left a series of notes of the Nadsat (made-up language the characters use) / English translations, so my reading experience wasn't made more difficult trying to learn things from context. You may find an online translator here:

http://www.soomka.com/nadsat.html

It's incredibly helpful. As far as the actual story goes - I was reluctant to read it because of the general feel that it's a highly disturbing story, and I generally dislike filling my head with disturbing - it tends to stick with me! I really enjoyed it, and would read it again. A true modern classic. And yes, haunting.


Cold Sassy Tree
Cold Sassy Tree
Author: Olive Ann Burns
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 95
Review Date: 9/27/2008
Helpful Score: 2


Laughed out loud at this one! You can't help but fall in love with the characters. I was disappointed when I had to turn the last page. I wanted to know what happened next! A lovely, lovely book, particularly if you have a soft spot for the south.


The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
Author: Amy Hempel
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.6/5 Stars.
 13
Review Date: 6/2/2010
Helpful Score: 2


I can't say enough good things about this book. It's all four of her collections of short stories in one - Tumble Home, The Dog of the Marriage, and two others. You find yourself wanting to read it aloud to someone. Her use of language is incredible, and you come away feeling like you need to create. Each word serves a purpose. I won't be parting with this one.


A Confederacy of Dunces
A Confederacy of Dunces
Author: John Kennedy Toole
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 586
Review Date: 8/16/2010
Helpful Score: 2


Three words: READ. THIS. BOOK! I guffawed on nearly every single page; so much so that my husband, who was reading a considerably duller novel, remarked "I am about to steal that from you like a bully!"

Ignatius T. Reilly is a fat, gaseous, pompous, lazy, over-educated windbag who lives with his mother. After his mother gets into a drunk driving accident (which he more or less caused), she demands that he finally get a job in order to help with the expenses. Hilarity, as they say, ensues. Enter a senile bookkeeper, an apathetic CEO, a porn-peddling club owner, a dim-witted stripper with a trained cockatoo, a would-be saboteur, an inept cop and his peculiar auntie, and a disgruntled fork-wielding weenie salesman.

It's absurd in the way that Christopher Moore's writing is absurd, only much, much better written and crafted. I'm not amazed that there are no copies posted currently - who would get rid of it!


The Constant Princess
The Constant Princess
Author: Philippa Gregory
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.7/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 10/5/2008


A beautiful portrait of Catherine of Aragon in her younger, fighting years. I found myself most fascinated with her childhood and her parents, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, more than I cared what happened to her after she married Henry VIII to become his first wife. The book gives you a new respect for the woman tossed aside for Anne Boleyn. How foolish of King Henry to get rid of such a woman! Catherine of Aragon is absolutely a strong, fascinating, charming, and (unlike her successor), a good woman. Wonderful story.


Conversations with the Devil
Conversations with the Devil
Author: Jeff Rovin
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 9/27/2008


I thought this book was very interesting and unlike anything I'd ever read before. Creepy, intriguing, and hard to put down!

When a lonely psychologist loses a young patient, she is desperate to figure out why, and what happened. His parents blame her - after all, if she was a good therapist, why would their son have killed himself? And why didn't she see it coming? The psychologist finds out that the patient was worshipping the devil, so she decides to conjure the devil herself, to ask him personally why her patient killed himself. The more the devil talks, the more she feels herself suckered in by his charms, and the harder he is to get rid of.


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