Erika S. (summrsun16) - , - Reviews

1 to 17 of 17
The Angel's Game (Cemetery of Forgotten Books, Bk 2)
Review Date: 1/7/2010
Helpful Score: 1


Shadow of the Wind is one of my favorite books, so I could not wait to pick up Zafon's newest. As in SotW, the writing is gorgeous. Zafon's writing is so beautiful and fluid, and the translation was perfection. The story is about David Martin, a young writer who has become increasingly jaded and cynical about the publishing industry. He rents an old house with some of his earnings, and he slowly becomes tangled in the house's past. He is commissioned to write a book by a mysterious boss. He begins to find parallels between the previous house owner and the strange things that are happening to him. And then the death toll begins to rise...

My only qualm with the book was the last part, where it got a little confusing and seemed almost out of place. However, since I so enjoy Zafon's storytelling, I still couldn't put it down. Not quite as good as SotW, but still an enjoyable read, and I look forward to Zafon's next installment.


Aztec (Aztec, Bk 1)
Aztec (Aztec, Bk 1)
Author: Gary Jennings
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 32
Review Date: 4/22/2010


A sweeping saga of love, loss, and war, Gary Jenning's lengthy novel pulled me in from the first page. The story follows the life of Mixtli, a man of the Mexica people, who were descended from the Aztecs and lived in "The Heart of the One World" - Tenochtitlan. When Spanish conquistadors (led by Cortes) take over what we now call Mexico, they enlist Mixtli, near the end of his life, to tell the story of the Mexica to the Spanish king. Mixtli is a powerful voice - engaging, often humorous, and sparing no detail, no matter how gory or sexually taboo. It really doesn't seem like this novel is over 1000 pages - I never forgot plot details and it read so smoothly. I thought it gave great insight as to the culture, the reign of the man we call Montezuma, and how the Spanish were able to conquer Mexico. An amazing book.


City of Thieves
City of Thieves
Author: David Benioff
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 213
Review Date: 8/27/2009
Helpful Score: 1


An absolutely wonderful book. It's told in rich detail and is funny, heartbreaking, and suspenseful all at the same time. Young Lev is caught stripping a dead German soldier with his friends, and Kolya is suspected of deserting his military unit. The unlikely pair are sent on an impossible mission by the Colonel - get a dozen eggs for his daughter's wedding cake. No easy feat in Leningrad where there is no food and rations are scarce. Their adventure takes them out of Leningrad, where they encounter bands of rebels, Nazi soldiers, and victims of the violence in WWII Russia.

An endearing, unexpected coming-of-age tale that you won't easily forget.


Cost
Cost
Author: Roxana Robinson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 3/11/2012
Helpful Score: 4


Having watched a ton of Intervention on A&E, plus having a family member with an addiction problem, I actually didn't enjoy this book. Drawing from my own experience and from what I've seen, I didn't think the dialogue or situations were realistic at all. In fact, they were downright contrived.

I found the main character (the mother) to be insufferable. The mother's elderly parents, including her mother who suffers from Alzheimer's, seemed to be thrown in as an afterthought with perhaps an aim to give them a bigger subplot, but it just didn't work and they ended up being unnecessary and extraneous.

The ending was both predictable and a little abrupt, without a lot of closure.

The whole book just sort of made me mad; I wanted to slap the mother. Didn't do it for me.


Dancing for Degas
Dancing for Degas
Author: Kathryn Wagner
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 2/12/2010
Helpful Score: 1


I was intrigued when I won this as a Goodreads First Reads, and delved into it as both a lover of historical fiction as well as someone with an educational background in art history. While I do think it had promise, it ultimately was just okay for me.

Of course it should be noted that I did receive an ARC - an uncorrected copy which still required editing. I do hope that an editor thoroughly goes through the book to clean up extraneous storylines and improve the writing. At times I found the prose a bit sophomoric. The perspective is first-person present-tense, which I found to be a little distracting. I do wish that Wagner would have focused on the Franco-Prussian War. It is touched on, but only very briefly, and I think this could have been a really interesting storyline and a good distraction from the overly romance-y aspects of the story.

The second half was the better part of the book. It was definitely quicker and more interesting, and I found myself flying through the pages. I would recommend this more for fans of historical romances - as a historical fiction lover I was left just a little disappointed.


The Darkest Evening of the Year
The Darkest Evening of the Year
Author: Dean Koontz
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 389
Review Date: 8/13/2009


Personally, I thought it was terrible. Badly written, characters have lack of depth and are poorly developed, and the ending was so awful it made me mad. While it was fairly suspenseful, the bad things about the book really distracted me from any good. This was the first book I'd read of Koontz and I'm unlikely to read another.


The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters
The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters
Author: Gordon Dahlquist
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.
 25
Review Date: 11/14/2007
Helpful Score: 3


It would have been so much better if it were shorter. You can tell that Gordon Dahlquist is a playwright because his writing is EXTREMELY detailed, to a fault. It gets very long-winded and a little frustrating. That being said, I did love the three main characters and the story was very original. It took me ages to read it and I had to read something really light after it, but if you're ready for a saga, then I think this is a good place to start.


I, Mona Lisa
I, Mona Lisa
Author: Jeanne Kalogridis
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 116
Review Date: 12/17/2009
Helpful Score: 4


A really excellent read. I'd never read Jeanne Kalogridis before, but I adore her writing style. Fluid, engaging, descriptive, and so nice to read. In the first part of this story, we hear the tale of how Lisa's life events were set into motion. The Medici family, the most powerful family in Florence, was torn apart when youngest brother Giuliano was murdered in the Duomo by the conspiring Pazzi family. After this, Florence was thrust into turmoil - a new preacher came into popularity, hailed as a sort of Messiah, demanding that Florence turn away from materialism, which caused Florence to turn away from the Medici family.

Lisa is stuck in the middle of all of this. She meets Lorenzo de Medici and through him becomes acquainted with Leonardo da Vinci. All the political, economic, and religious issues of the time come to light as we journey through Lisa's life, and Kalogridis does a wonderful job of connecting actual historical events with fictionalized experiences. There are some major twists that you won't see coming, and that will ultimately surprise you. I absolutely loved this book and can't wait to read more of Kalogridis' work.


I'm No Angel
I'm No Angel
Author: Patti Berg
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 73
Review Date: 11/6/2007
Helpful Score: 2


After reading a particularly heavy book, I just wanted something light and fun. And I got it in "I'm No Angel." Not a masterpiece by any means, but it was a quick, flirty contemporary romance that I found myself getting sucked into. The characters are surprisingly well-developed, and while the plot was a bit cliche, it was still an enjoyable read. Great beach reading.


Into the Beautiful North
Into the Beautiful North
Author: Luis Alberto Urrea
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 8
Review Date: 5/18/2010


Being that it was coming from Luis Alberto Urrea of The Hummingbird's Daughter, I assumed it was historical fiction. It was not. On the first Youtube mention I kind of groaned. I also assumed from how good THD was that this would be good. It was not. The dialogue was all sentence fragments and non sequitur ramblings. There was very little character development, to the point where I didn't really know why the characters did anything they did. It was an interesting premise, but execution was ultimately pretty poor. I'll be skipping any of Urrea's future contemporary novels and will stick with his HF.


Moloka'i
Moloka'i
Author: Alan Brennert
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 407
Review Date: 2/19/2008
Helpful Score: 15


Wow. What a stellar book. The characters are still fresh in my mind, even now, almost 2 months after I read it! This is a very well-researched historical fiction, and it gave me new insight into the Hawaiian leprosy epidemic, as well as the annexation of Hawaii by the U.S. It is extremely well-written, engaging, interesting, and insightful. I even cried at the end, and I never cry at books! Definitely pick this book up. You'll never think of Moloka'i the same way again.


Murder on Lenox Hill (Gaslight, Bk 7)
Murder on Lenox Hill (Gaslight, Bk 7)
Author: Victoria Thompson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 121
Review Date: 10/8/2009


Actually thought it was just okay. This may be a result of not reading them in order, but I thought the character development was lacking.

The Lintons' mentally disabled daughter Grace is pregnant, and she swears no one hurt her. So who's the father? Sarah Brandt is on the case with the help of Frank Malloy. Things only get more complicated when they find out that the minister at the Lintons' church may be abusing young boys. Then the minister drops dead in the middle of communion, apparently poisoned. Everyone is a suspect. Who killed Reverend Upchurch? And who got Grace Linton pregnant?

My big problem with the book is that the murder happened in the last 90 pages of the book. There wasn't really a lot of time to flush out suspects and follow the clues. Overall, enjoyable, but for me, not ultimately suspenseful.


The Raw Shark Texts
The Raw Shark Texts
Author: Steven Hall
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 39
Review Date: 10/15/2008
Helpful Score: 2


A very strange book but very interesting. It's highly conceptual, so it takes a little while to kind of understand what Hall is getting at, but it's very exciting and quite action-packed. I usually find myself reading in bed and once I finish a chapter I'll have to say to myself "Well, maybe just one more chapter." A couple of late nights were had with this book! If you liked the movies "The Matrix" and "Memento" then you will love this book.


The Shadow of the Wind (Cemetery of Forgotten Books, Bk 1)
Review Date: 12/3/2007


One of the best books I've read in years. It's written so beautifully and so perfectly you just don't want to put it down. The story is intriguing, exciting, and unexpected. Read this book!


Skeletons at the Feast
Skeletons at the Feast
Author: Chris Bohjalian
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 104
Review Date: 1/22/2010
Helpful Score: 5


A German family must flee their home and head west to try to outrun the Russian army. A young French Jewish girl is living through the atrocities of a concentration camp and death marches. This story is told from a variety of viewpoints (Cecile, the French girl; Anna, the German daughter; Theo, the German son; Callum, the Scottish POW; Uri, the vigilante Jew living a double life) which makes for a very interesting story. It is moving, deeply disturbing, and shows the horror of war. Recommended if you enjoy WWII fiction.


The Space Between Us
The Space Between Us
Author: Thrity Umrigar
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 234
Review Date: 8/12/2009
Helpful Score: 8


A beautiful book about two families of women in India. One is a servant, living in the slums, whose orphan granddaughter becomes pregnant. The other is the family she works for - led by Sera, whose daughter is married and pregnant. We discover much about the women's pasts and how they ended up where they are and what has shaped them in their lives.

It's a really wonderful story - it's unceasingly interesting and full of twists (the big twist I had not expected at all). You really begin to feel compassion for both the lead female characters. One has suffered through an abusive marriage and the other has lost husband, children, and her life to servitude. Beautifully written and completely enthralling.


A Thread of Grace
A Thread of Grace
Author: Mary Doria Russell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 118
Review Date: 11/6/2009


A wonderful book. It was so engaging, I often forgot that I was reading a book and felt more like I was in the story. While I have read a lot of WWII fiction, I had not read anything about WWII Italy and the Partisan uprising against the Nazi regime, which invaded Italy after the Italian armistice. The book features a huge cast of characters (Russell was thoughtful enough to include a cast of characters at the beginning of the book so I didn't get too lost) - there are a couple of "main" characters that are all interconnected. I did really find myself caring about a few of the main characters - the disillusioned German doctor; the exuberant, drunken, self-made Jewish spy; the grieving rabbi's wife, forced to hide away in the Italian countryside.

In the end I was thrown off a bit by the enormous cast, but overall, I found it to be an absolutely beautiful story. 4.5/5.0 stars, with just that half star taken off for the daunting number of characters!


1 to 17 of 17