Monday, May 23, 2011

Dark Mirror

Dark Mirror (Dark Passage, #1)Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was SO excited for this book to come out because I love Mary Jo Putney's books, and I enjoy YA fiction, but this book was really a watered down version of her Guardians series, and I was quite disappointed. Everything felt too easy, too glib. Putney is known for the depth of her characters and character development, and most of that was lacking this time. The premise of the story was interesting--members of the British aristocracy discovered to have magical talents are sent to a prison-like school to be "cured," but a group of rebel students work to develop their talents instead and end up traveling through time to save England--and sometimes got exciting, but much of the time I found myself rolling my eyes and/or gritting my teeth. These teenagers adjusted to "modern conveniences," inventions, and socio-political changes WAY too easily to be believable. The pace was a little too fast. The romance seemed shallow. The book wasn't precisely bad...just lacking in depth and nuance.

On the other hand, I might be judging harshly because my expectations were so high to begin with. And I probably will read the sequel.

For readers' advisors: story doorway, with setting secondary (Regency & WWII)

View all my reviews

Friday, May 20, 2011

Who Makes the Bed When the Honeymoon Is Over

Who Makes the Bed When the Honeymoon Is Over:100 Ways to Make Housework Quick, Easy & Fair! (and improve your sex life, too)Who Makes the Bed When the Honeymoon Is Over:100 Ways to Make Housework Quick, Easy & Fair! by Mary Ellen Pinkham

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I picked this up because of the title, which seems particularly relevant to me as I try to figure out how I ended up doing about 85% of the housework. *grrr!* I had high hopes that this short little book would give me some tips on negotiating a more fair and balanced housekeeping relationship. However, all I really learned was to remember to include non-cleaning-related tasks when making a list of chores to divvy up--i.e. don't leave out bill paying & lawn mowing, etc. I did enjoy the funny quotes, particularly the one from Dave Barry on p. 17: "The obvious and fair solution to the housework problem is to let men do the housework for, say, the next six thousand years, to even things up."

Much of the book is taken up with basic instructions on how to clean things, dividing everything into categories: daily, weekly, monthly, twice a year, special occasions. I didn't really need the instructions for most of them, and I would have preferred she suggest less toxic options for some of them, although she does do that for a few. The author has her own line of cleansers, which she consistently recommends, so it feels a little self-serving.

This may be a good book to recommend to newlyweds who are in their early twenties and new to housekeeping in general.

View all my reviews

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the VoidPacking for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mary Roach's writing style makes me laugh out loud. She is one of the main reasons I began branching out into reading nonfiction. Her research is incredibly thorough. I don't think I'd go to the lengths she does to get her facts straight. I'd happily, joyfully experience weightlessness in the C-9 airplane that flies parabolas! But I seriously doubt I'd try treating & drinking my own urine. I'm with her husband on that one--UGH.

What I especially love about this book is that she focuses not on the history of the development of the technology (rockets & bolts and such) of space flight but rather on the human aspects of it--eating, sleeping, vomiting, interpersonal conflicts & psychology, sex, gravity & G-forces, hygiene, "waste elimination," etc. All the stuff you were curious to know but which rarely, if ever, gets explained. So fascinating! My one regret, however, is that I read this book almost entirely during my lunch breaks...which not only slowed me down but also sometimes made it difficult to eat. Particularly true of the vomit and poop chapters. :( My husband was not so foolish, thankfully, and read it on evenings, weekends, and our mini-vacation.

For readers' advisors: character doorway because Roach's personality infuses her books like she's cracking jokes and telling stories just for YOU. Story doorway is a distant second because it is fascinating, albeit non-linear, history she's telling.

View all my reviews

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Peach Keeper

The Peach KeeperThe Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Peach Keeper is a delightful story of friendship and finding yourself. Living your best life, as Oprah would say. Seventy-five years ago a secret was buried at the edge of a cliff, but secrets do not stay buried forever, and this one is shaken loose when Paxton and Colin restore the town's original grand home to its former glory. Willa, Paxton, Sebastian, and Colin grew up in the same North Carolina town but worlds apart. The labels they bore in high school--Joker, Princess, Freak, and Stick Man--still haunt them twelve years later. They are about to learn that none of them is quite what people thought.

Sarah Addison Allen infuses her books with magic. Not the spells and incantations sort, but the delicious kind--bells and scents and objects that appear and disappear, protective birds, earthquakes, and so on. I read this book pretty much in one sitting and wished I could dive into it and meet these people in real life. I also loved the cameo appearance by Claire and Bay from Garden Spells.

For readers' advisors: character doorway primarily but also story doorway

View all my reviews

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

More Bears!

More Bears!More Bears! by Kenn Nesbitt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You know it's going to be a good day when a picture book arrives in the mail unannounced and apparently free of charge! More Bears is a very cute book about an author who is "forced" to add more bears to his story until there are too many. This is great for having little kids yell, "More Bears!" with every turn of the page. Fun for a read-aloud.

View all my reviews