Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Book Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

This book is so full of old-timey goodness that it makes me want to buy a pair of pantaloons and a corset, strap myself in and haul butt to New York City, circa 1916.

Times is tough for Francie Nolan and her family. Betty Smith paints a vivid and imaginative picture of life in turn of the last century Brooklyn, New York. Your heart breaks for the sorrow of Johnny Nolan, the doomed patriarch who drinks himself to an early grave, leaving behind his wife, Katie, and their two children, Francie and Neeley. Despite the hard life, Francie, who narrates the story, is able to find joy in her life.

I'm a bit of a promiscuous reader, in that, I read several books at a time. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn started off as a lazy Sunday read which led to a nightly ritual wherein I would read well into the night, bedtime be damned. I even took it on the work commute a few times, just to get a few more pages in. I really liked this book; like I said, it made me want to time travel. And to be honest, isn't that what a good book is supposed to do?

Book Review: Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

What can you say about Anne of Green Gables that hasn't been said by every 10 year-old girl in Canada and a good chunk of the remaining world? Anne is...beguiling; you can't help but fall in love with the little girl that sweeps through Avonlea, winning hearts and minds.

I started this book in prep for a sisterly trip to PEI and I just finished it, over a month after our return. I didn't read any of it while we were there, knowing that I would likely be saturated by all things Anne. I was not wrong. I'm glad I left the rest of the book for my return. After visiting Avonlea, I read the rest of the book with a new-found appreciation. PEI is unlike anywhere else I've been to and it's magic and beauty is captured by L. M. Montgomery's classic tale. It's no wonder people love it still, a hundred years later. While the language may be old-fashioned, the beauty and innocence of a little orphan girl seems to be timeless.

I think I need something contemporary next. Between Anne of Avonlea and Francie Nolan (see previous review, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) I'm starting to turn into a real puritan, methinks!

Book Review: Beyond Compare by Candace Camp

Candace Camps' Beyond Compare is a fun and quick romantic adventure centered around Kyria "The Goddess" Moreland and Rafe McIntyre, an American oil tycoon. Kyria and Rafe have some great moments together--their first romantic encounter is particularly steamy. I've always found that Camp writes romance well and she certainly didn't disappoint.

The story is fairly interesting, in that it kept the novel moving quickly. Rafe and Kyria meet at her sister's wedding to his best friend, and are soon befallen by an intrigue around an ancient, possibly stolen reliquary that arrives at her door. I didn't feel at all like it was dragging and the action was well written and stayed true to the time period.

All in all, I enjoyed the book. Camp's Regencies are well-written and the characters are likeable. Four out of five stars!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Book Review: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Sweet glittery vampires! This book...well, I have to be kind, don't I?

I'll be honest. I haven't finished it. I'm trying very hard to finish (mostly because I want to return it to Chapters, but that's another story...) but boy does Meyer make it hard.

I've been hauling this 700 + page tome around for the better part of a week and a half and I just can't get into the story. It's long, it's over-wraught with ridiculous emotions that make absolutely no sense and - can I just say - the name Renesmee is quite possibly the silliest one I have ever heard. Mashing two people's names together to create a new one is only awesome if you do it to mock them (e.g. Brangelina); it's rarely going to turn into a good name, as evidenced by Meyer's poor, linguistically-challenged attempt. Most of the characters start calling the poor kid "Nessie" for short. Personally, I would have gone with "Smee", but that's just because I hold a candle for Peter Pan's Smee (and it's fun to say)!

I'm sorry...I'm trying to be nice. It just makes me mad, though. Here was a perfectly nice trilogy of silly, fluffy, teenage vampire romance (fairly certain that's how she sold it to Little, Brown) and she had to go and ruin it by cashing another cheque. You can't convince me otherwise.

Shoulda stuck to three, Meyer. This one's an F for me.