Wednesday, April 28, 2010

#23 - Wifey

By: Judy Blume
304 pages
Published: 1978
ISBN: 0425206548
My Copy: Mooched via BookMooch


Monday, April 12, 2010

It's Monday! What Am I Reading?

Not much into reading the last few days. I've been so tired and I can't believe I still haven't finished some of these.

I'm currently working on:

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson

I'm listening to:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Last week, I only managed to finish:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

I've got to make it a point to finish The Age of Innocence. I'm sick of seeing it on this list every week! I knew I made a mistake when I watched the movie version before I had finished the book. Now that I know how the story ends (tragically) I have almost no desire to finish the book.

Sigh. Better luck reading this week!

-- Lisa

Friday, April 9, 2010

#22 - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
By: J.K. Rowling
Narrated by: Jim Dale
672 pages (19 hours)
Published: 2005
ISBN: 0307283658
My Copy: Borrowed from library (I own the book)


Monday, April 5, 2010

It's Monday! What Am I Reading!

This week I am working on:

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

I am listening to:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Since I last posted on a Monday, I've completed these books:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Occasions by Kate Spade
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Manners by Kate Spade

Also, I just found out we are going on vacation to Las Vegas and I'll need some good sunny vacation reads. Any suggestions?

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

#21 - Manners

By: Kate Spade
96 pages
Published: 2004
ISBN: 0743250664
My Copy: Borrowed from library


#20 - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

By: J.K. Rowling
Narrated by: Jim Dale
896 pages (27 hours)
Published: 2003
ISBN: 0807220299
My Copy: Borrowed from library (I own the book)

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released on midnight on June 21, 2003 and I was there, standing in line at my local Borders, to get one of the first copies in line. I will always remember this book release because a) it was the first Potter-related midnight book release party I had been to and my best friend, Kristina, and I ended up waiting until after 1:30 AM to finally purchase our copies of the book, and b) it took place exactly one week before my wedding.

Committing yourself to reading an 896-page book the week you are getting married is a tall order, but I had absolutely decided that I would have finished by the time I walked down the aisle. I knew I wouldn't be able to concentrate on my "I do's" if I was secretly trying to work out what was really contained in the Department of Mysteries and wondering what would happen during the climatic Voldemort vs. Dumbledore duel at the end.

The book is long, the longest of the series, but I still thought I could polish it off in a single day. Sadly, I was wrong, and it took me two or three days to finally have the whole thing completed (that did leave me more than enough time to get to the rehearsal dinner though). The same is true of listening to the book. It is 27 hours long! 27 hours! That's an entire day of listening and then some, so yeah, one day was not going to be enough.

The one good thing about the book coming out that week was that I was able to get several other copies to give to members of our bridal party as thank you gifts. Since no one in our circle of friends and family was as obsessed as me, I knew no one had started it yet!

One of the mistakes I made on my first reading was rushing through the story a little. After that, I learned to never rush another Potter novel, but to read carefully, soaking in all the details. After all, you only get one chance to read a book for the first time. When I finished the book, I remember being underwhelmed, and given its placement in the series, I can understand why I felt this. The story doesn't put forth any grand details, except that we learn that Harry is destined to kill Voldemort, or else be killed by him. It really isn't until the sixth and seventh book that we start to get the whole picture and understand how and why Harry must destroy Voldemort. But, of course, those seeds are planted here in this fifth story.

But, the book is a gem in its own right. Sure, Harry is moody, maybe a little bit too moody, but, after all that's happened, doesn't he have a right to be? I think Rowling really adeptly captures teenage angst and the first stirrings of love subplots in this volume. And, of course, the author gives us two uniquely wonderful female villains - Dolores Umbridge and Bellatrix Lestrange. A passive-aggressive, power hungry, government official - is there anything worse? And hateful, evil, sadistic Bellatrix is a force to be reckoned with (though, for the life of me, I can't understand why Jim Dale gives her a foreign accent? Shouldn't she be British?)

And then there is the death of Sirius, who Harry was beginning to regard as kind of a surrogate father, all at the same time that he is discovering that his own father was not all he thought him to be. Rowling could have easily left James and Lily Potter and perfect beacons of goodness, who sacrificed themselves to save their only son, but she is brave enough to give them flaws. Even Sirius, who has suffered so horribly and unjustly, can be, at times, an unsuitable guardian and role model. We're left to wonder if maybe Harry isn't better off without his influence after all.

As far as the movies go, Order of the Phoenix is easily my favorite. I think the filmmakers managed to perfectly capture the spirit of the book, while also significantly compressing the action (Phoenix is the longest volume in the series, but the shortest movie to date). Does that mean Order of the Phoenix itself could've stood a little editing? Perhaps, but in the end, I'm glad it didn't get any. The more Harry the better, as far as I'm concerned.

Overall, an excellent book, a great step in the series, full of excellent details adding to the overall story.

Rating: A

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

#19 - Occasions

By: Kate Spade
112 pages
Published: 2004
ISBN: 0743250656
My Copy: Received as a Christmas present

I am obsessed with books on etiquette and entertaining. It's kind of weird, but there is something about politeness and welcoming others into my home that just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I love having parties and I love coming up with new and creative ways hosting great gatherings. So, as you can imagine, I've read quite a few books on entertaining. My measure of a good hostessing book is one that leaves me with lots of new ideas and has me itching to get started on my next get-together.

Occasions is just that kind of book. Some of the advice is a little upscale for my guests' tastes (I only recently hosted a dinner party where I used place cards and, though it went over well, I felt extremely hoity doing so), but the tone of the book is one of warmth and consideration, guiding the hostess to do all she can to make sure her guests have an enjoyable time.

There is a significant section on alcohol and mixed drinks, which I think might be helpful in the future if I ever do anything like a cocktail party (we typically only serve beers and wine, but I'd like to branch out a little). The book also contains a lot of fun little tips for decorations and gifts. There was one moment while reading that made me very proud of myself - when Kate mentioned keeping a diary of all your parties and going over it to review what is needed for next time. I already do that! Yes, I keep a very detailed hostess diary with records of every gathering I have in my house. It's an great little book and it really has come in useful. For example, I host our book club in my home every month and only have to look back on the previous month's entry to see what drinks or foods were a hit so I can make sure I am preparing snacks my guests will enjoy.

Compared to the previous Kate Spade effort that I undertook, Style, this book is a much more useful resource, one I am glad I have on hand to browse through before any future parties. The layout of the book makes it easy to read and the hand drawn illustrations are extremely helpful. It's not perfect or comprehensive by any means, but it does have loads of helpful tips and hints inside.

Rating: B+