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Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Blurb: An Dublin Student Doctor

Title: A Dublin Student Doctor

Author: Patrick Taylor

Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis: A story about the education of Dr. Fingal Flaherty O'Reilly (the main character of Taylor's Irish Country Doctor series) set in Dublin during the 1930s.

Stars: 3/5

Lauren's Review: While there's not really anything wrong with this book, I didn't love it either. I want to give this book one big 'meh' and be done with it.

Is that ok? Am I supposed to write more? I will, just so I don't feel like I failed my readers (joke).

The writing in this book drove me insane. It starts out jumping back and forth between the 60s and 30s and you can't tell what time period you are in (both stories are told in present tense). It's also repetitive, if you took out every time he repeats something it would be 100 pages shorter. And the ending...I won't spoil but it's just off. That being said, I had an Advanced Reader copy (I won from Goodreads First Reads) so I'm hoping an editor went through and at least fixed some of this before the book was actually published.

I know, I know, people aren't reading this book for the writing; they come for the characters. Taylor presents a fun group of characters (new and old) and puts them in an interesting stetting. I learned a lot about medicine and the state of Ireland in the 1930s. But the plot was less than thrilling and I didn't really 'care' about any of the characters.

Those who are already familiar with the series and like Dr. Fingal O'Reilly will enjoy learning more about his past, but for the rest of us I don't really recommend this book. But I don't dis-recommend it. It's just...whatever...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Blurb: Cloud Atlas

Title: Cloud Atlas

Author: David Mitchell

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, Crime Thriller, pretty much everything

Synopsis: This book is made up of 6 mini stories all packaged together like one of those Russian nesting dolls, you get the first half of each story in chronological order all the way to the middle, then you get the second half in descending chronological order until you've finished the first story of the book.

Stars: 5/5

Lauren's Review: I absolutely loved this book! Like I said in the synopsis, it is made up of six 'nesting' stories. Each story is told in a different 'style' (diary entries, letters, crime novel, first person account), focusing on a different character in a different time period. That being said, this is NOT a collection of short stories! Each character encounters the works of the previous story in some form and they are all linked in subtle ways involving theme and a comet shaped birthmark.

This is one of those rare types of book that draws you in for the characters and plot, but leaves you thinking about the themes days and weeks later. It focuses on power, corruption, and the value of a human life; but it does so in a way that is unique and interesting. Please please pick up a copy and don't be turned off by the first story or two (which are a little old-Englishy), I promise it's worth it!

I got into a bit of an online debate about whether or not this book is 'pretentious.' Some people thought of it as a poorly written and without meaning...I really could not disagree more, but to each their own. I will say that not every aspect of the story is completely fleshed out nor is there an 'all loose ends tied up' kinda ending. I think this is troubling to some who want every story to wrap up or have a sequel, but it's just not that kind of book.

Just last month filming started on a movie version of this book, which is going to have an EPIC all star cast! I'm pretty excited -

I'd love to hear from someone else who read it and what their take on it is!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Blurb: Only Time Will Tell

Before I start this blurb, let me say that I won this book through Goodreads First Reads. Free books, it's awesome. I don't want to tell you all about it, because then there will be more people entering the contests and making it hard for me to win them, but I have to tell you because it's in the rules. So without further rambling...

Title: Only Time Will Tell

Author: Jeffrey Archer

Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis: This book follows Harry Clifton through his childhood into his early adult years in England during the 30s.

Stars: 5/5

Lauren's Review: The title is awful, however it's pretty accurate. There are a lot of mysteries surrounding young Harry (how his father died, who his father may actually be), through the chapters Archer slowly and skillfully reveals the truth.

he writing was simple and straight forward; it's the plot and characters that draw you in. I finished the book in only a few sittings, the last one keeping me up until 1 in the morning because I had to find out what happened to Harry.

My only criticism would be the strange way the author keeps changing the point of view. I enjoyed having different sections focusing on different characters, but I don't think the first person point of view chapters really added anything to the story and at first they only confused me.

Overall, an enjoyable quick read and I'm excited for the next in the series.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Book Blurb: The Sweet Relief of Missing Children

Title: The Sweet Relief of Missing Children

Author: Sarah Braunstein

Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: The story jumps between several different characters and their inter-related life experiences, with one constant story line that regards a missing girl named Lenora.

Stars: 2/5

Lauren's Review: This was my book club book last month, and I'm starting to think I'm cursed when it comes to picking a book club book. I always pick stinkers, and this was no exception.

The book has a lot of good qualities, for one the writing style is straight forward and blunt, therefore easy to read (which is what my book club needed after our previous book). And the stories are interesting and often leave you wanting more.

The real problem of this book is just that it seems to go nowhere. The characters' stories start to intertwine and it becomes a hassle to keep up with who's who. Instead of the masterful 'bring-it-all-together' ending that this book seemed to hint at with its structure and twists, it just kinda falls flat. I felt as if the author got tired, or couldn't think of a good way to end it.

What's more, the stories that started out as 'interesting and dark' end up more 'dark and depressing.' In the end I just felt disappointed and sad, the book was just a real downer. Guess I should have seen that coming with the title.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

You know what they say

You can never judge a book by it's cover...

...but I'll never read this.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Not a book review here, since I'm still knee deep in three books (and going nowhere fast). Last night, when I wasn't reading (again) I jumped on Netflix and watched some new shows. One of them was Sherlock, BBC's modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.

Martin Freeman, who is always awesome, plays John Watson...and while he's not quite as handsome as Jude Law, he's just as like-able as the good doctor. And once you get over the fact Benedict Cumberbatch has no eyebrows, he's pretty darn good too.

I don't want to compare it too much to the recent Sherlock Holmes movies, it's quite different because it's set in modern day Britain with modern day crimes. And Cumberbatch's Holmes is more like the book Holmes in that he is incredible perceptive (and annoying).

If you have Netflix, check it out. It's available for instant streaming and one episode is all you'll need to be hooked!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Book Blurb: A Game of Thrones

Title: A Game of Thrones

Author: George R. R. Martin

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: Fantasy at its finest. Any short synopsis will not do it justice.

Stars: 5/5

Lauren's Review: This book was everything I wanted it to be, and then some. I cannot get it out of my head. If you are a fantasy buff, this is an absolute MUST READ! If you're on the edge about fantasy ("I liked Harry Potter, but I'm not a total nerd") this book is STILL a must read! It combines the bests of all my favorite books, like King Arthur, LOTR, and Pillars of the Earth, into one awesome, epic tale.

The thing about this book that is the most amazing is the scope and detail. It's so intertwined and complex, and yet still totally enthralling. Description and dialogue are perfectly combined, and cliffhangers are randomly thrown in to make this 800 some page book a total page-turner.

Another beautiful thing is that it's not completely black and white. Fantasy has a tendency to have 'bad guys' and 'good guys,' and while this book isn't totally innocent of that, it has enough gray area that you feel connected to all the characters (at least the main ones).

I cannot recommend this book enough, please please please read it! Just be warned that you will be completely sucked in and may not have a social life until you finish it...and perhaps the 4 sequels.

Side Note: If you're not aware, this book has also been made into an HBO mini-series. I haven't seen it yet, but I hear fabulous things. I plan on checking it out soon!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Blurb: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Author: Lisa See

Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis: Two young girls are matched to be laotong, life long friends. But as they grow up they must deal with the realities of life in 19th Century China and their friendship struggles.

Stars: 3/5

Lauren's Review: I wanted to like this book much more than I did, but the problem was I had read The Good Earth by Pearl Buck not that long ago. After reading Buck's account of China, anything else just feels kinda fake. Also she used a few expressions that just jumped out at me as out of context, for example at one point the narrator is climbing a mountain and says that she was "beyond tired." This book is definitely an interesting read and study in female friendship, but if you're looking for a more realistic picture of rural life in China before the cultural revolution, go for The Good Earth.

There is a movie version out in select theaters now, I have yet to see it but I enjoyed the book enough I probably will.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book Blurb: The Mermaid Chair

Title: The Mermaid Chair

Author: Sue Monk Kidd (who also wrote The Secret Life of Bees)

Genre: Romantic Fiction

Synopsis: A married middle aged woman goes home to take care of her depressed mother and has a mid-life crisis.

Stars: 0/5

Lauren's Review: Do not read this book. It sucks.

Why does it suck? Because the plot is boring and the main character is selfish. I understand that women are complex, emotional beings. But I also understand that when you have a nice husband who works full time so that you can pretend to be an artist in your cushy Victorian mansion, you really don't have that much to whine about. But Jessie whines and whines for a full novel. All the while ignoring the fact that her mother is DANGEROUSLY depressed and hurting herself. She is a terrible person. And I don't enjoy books about terrible people, unless they're interesting. And this one isn't.

That's why it sucks.

I hear The Secret Life of Bees is good, but I doubt I'll ever read it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Blurb: The Girl in a Swing

Title: The Girl in a Swing

Author: Richard Adams (of Watership Down fame)

Genre: Horror? Romance? I dunno.

Synopsis: A man meets a woman while on a business trip and falls head over heels for her. They get married after knowing each other only two weeks and live happily ever after...until strange things begin to happen.

Stars: 3/5

Lauren's Review: I decided to read this book because someone I know listed it among their favorites. I picked up a used copy that had the same cover as above...which is why I need to tell everyone that this book is NOT a "beautiful, haunting, erotic love story and absolutely terrifying ghost story."

First things first, this book IS well written. Wonderful prose, and of course I loved that it was set in the English country side (I'd even been to a few sites mentioned!). That being said...

It is NOT a beautiful love story! It's like Romeo and Juliet (not the ending), these people have known each other TWO WEEKS! I just can't cheer on their decision to be married! And as for me pervy, but in this Nora-Roberts-Danielle-Steel age, this book fell far short of erotic.

Which brings me to the most disappointing part...the horror aspect. This book just didn't scare me. Richard Adams is not a ghost story writer. At one point I was telling John what happened and he said "that sounds scary to me!" and I thought "yes, this should be scary...but it's just not."

It's a good book and worth the read, but that quote on the cover just left me expecting so much more than it offered. The irony is that this book is very similar to Rebecca, one of my all time favorite books. Two strangers meet, soon get married, weird stuff happens, scary ending. But with Rebecca I had no expectations so I really enjoyed it. With this book I expected so much, and it just fell flat. I blame the cover.

So...I guess you should never judge a book by it's cover? And don't read this book when you want a horror story.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I've been MIA on the blogosphere for a loooong time, so I won't bother to review all the books I read while I was gone. Instead I'm just gonna list them here with how many "stars" I give them. I follow the Goodreads star system, which is:

1 star - I didn't like it
2 stars - it was ok
3 stars - I liked it
4 stars - I really liked it
5 stars - it was AMAZING!

So that in mind, here's what I've read:

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness - 3 stars

Ender's Game
by Orson Scott Card - 3 stars

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton - 5 stars

The Other Daughter by Lisa Gardner - 2 stars

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier - 4 stars

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins - 5 stars

World War Z by Max Brookes - 5 stars

City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin - 2 stars

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - 4 stars

Cocktails for Three by Madeline Wickham - 3 stars

Switched by Amanda Hocking - 1 star

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray - 2 stars

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver - 5 stars

One Day by David Nicholls - 5 stars

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskill - 4 stars (would be 5 stars, but there's no ending!)

Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet - 2 stars

The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart - 3 stars

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy - 4 stars

Something Blue by Emily Giffin - 4 stars

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb - 5 stars

City of the Sun by David Levien - 2 stars

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - 4 stars

If you want to know anymore about any of the books, let me know and I'll do a full review of it. If not, I'll just pick up from here!