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Book 35 - The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

Sep. 13th, 2007 | 10:29 am

Werlin has won a couple awards, including the Edgar Award Winner, which means nothing to me, but perhaps will mean something to you. I picked this book up because it was recommended to me by librarything.com, based on other reading I'd done. It's a young adult fiction book about three children growing up with a physically and emotionally abusive mom, a manipulative and psychotic - but outwardly, very beautiful - woman, whom they spend several years trying to escape from. It was an okay read, though the writing felt "dumbed down" (that's probably the YA part) and the basic story was very predictable (which I personally hate). Nothing special. I'd give it 2.5 out of 5 stars.
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Book 34 - This Boy's Life: A Memoir by Tobias Wolff

Sep. 12th, 2007 | 10:23 am

I decided to read some more of what Wolff (not to be confused with the HORRIBLE Virginia..) had written after immensely enjoying his fiction novel Old School. This book is nonfiction, and a slower read than his fiction work. It doesn't have the same depth of profundity either, as the focus is more on the story instead of the message (as opposed to Old School). I didn't dislike it, and I agree that Wolff certainly has some interesting stories from his childhood to tell, but I'm looking forward to reading the rest of his fiction work (short stories, etc). Perhaps I enjoyed it more than I might have if I hadn't read Old School, because I was able to make connections between Wolff's experiences and his fiction writing, and that was truly interesting.
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Book #33 (NEW FAVORITE) - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Sep. 11th, 2007 | 10:17 am

This book is a national bestseller, written by Mark Haddon, of which I'd heard a lot about so I picked up a copy at Goodwill. It's written from the perspective of an adolescent boy who deals with an uncommon psychological disorder, making him incredibly intelligent in some aspects of life (say math) and incredibly thick in others (say social relations). However, it's not only the perspective that makes the book unique (and therefore, good), but also the format, and the story. The book is formatted in small chunks, shorter than chapters, and includes many diagrams, charts, and other interesting pictures. The story is a murder mystery, and later turns into a commentary on the family structure. I definitely agree that it's earned it's "bestseller" title.
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Updated to-read list

Aug. 30th, 2007 | 03:13 pm

Fall Reading List
1. Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison (F - A4384ba)
2. I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron (NF - 814.54 E63)
3. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (F - F4594br)
4. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (F - S6236pr)
5. Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno (F - M5477ha)
6. Almost a Woman by Esmeralda Santiago (NF - 974.71 S235al)
7. Fake Liar Cheat by Tod Goldberg (F - G61875f)
8. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (YACl - H4775ca)
9. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
10. Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah (YANF - 979.4 M214)
11. If I Ignore It, it Will Go Away: And Other Lies I Thought Were True by Marsha Marks (PBNF - 248.843 m346)
12. Lucky by Alice Sebold (NF - 364.1532)
13. Sexy by Joyce Carol Oates
14. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
15. Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail by Ruben Martinez (NF - 306.85089 M385)
16. Lying Awake by Mark Salzman
17. Shopgirl by Steve Martin
18. This Boy's life: A Memoir by Tobias Wolff
19. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
20. Me and My Big Mouth by Joyce Meyer
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Book #32 - The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Aug. 25th, 2007 | 09:49 am

I read this book because my friend italianina recommended it to me. Coelho is her favorite author, altho I believe she reads most of his stuff in Spanish. The book itself was okay, I'd give it three out of five stars. I don't really like the story, but the writing is amazingly profound at times. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"Making a decision [is] only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision" (71).

"The closer one gets to realizing his destiny, the more that destiny becomes his true reason for being" (75).

"If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day according to the teachings, confident that God loves his children. Each day, in itself, brings an eternity" (108).

"If a person is living out his destiny, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure" (149).
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Book #31 - About a Boy by Nick Hornby

Aug. 25th, 2007 | 09:49 am

This is the third book that I've read by Nick Hornby, and it's my second favorite. It's a novel about a single man who pretends to have a son in order to hook up with a hot single mom. It's a really cute story, and good, often funny, writing. I give it four stars out of five. It definitely beats A Long Way Down but it's not quite as good as How to be Good.
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Book #30 Cut by Patricia McCormick

Aug. 9th, 2007 | 01:07 pm

I was not at all impressed with this book, at least after the expectations that had been set up for me. It was too short and too shallow. There was only one part I liked, in which the psychologist suggested to the girl that perhaps she cuts herself because she blames herself for all the painful things around her. But even that is cliche, and kind of obvious.

I guess it was a decent story, but the writing was just very average. Oh and the ending was not only stupid, but also anticlimactic and nonsensical. [Possible spoiler below] I mean, she ends the book saying that she wants help - that she wants to get better - but I, at least, was under the impression that by the end of the book she has alraedy IMMENSELY improved from her previous self and probably doesn't even need to live in the rehabilitation center anymore.
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Book #29 - Old School by Tobias Wolff

Aug. 2nd, 2007 | 09:26 am

This is the most brilliant book I've ever read. You will especially like it if you a) write, b) read the 'classics' or c) are of above-average intelligence.


"I was discovering the force of my will...I understood that nothing stood between me and my greatest desires - noting between me and greatness itself - but the temptation to doubt my will and bow to counsels of moderation, expedience, and conventional morality, and shrink into the long, slow death of respectability" (68).

(Here, the narrator - a student - is responding to a story written by Hemingway)
"I judged [Hemingway], but I also understood that he'd allowed me to, and this was chastening. Knowing that readers like me would see him in [his character], he had given us a vision of spiritual muddle and exhaustion almost embarrassing in its intimacy. The truth of these stories didn't come as a set of theories. You felt it on the back of your neck" (97).

(Here is the narrator's reflection on years of pretending to be someone he's not)
"By now I'd been absorbed so far into my performance that nothing else came naturally. But I never quite forgot that I was preforming. In the first couple of yeras there'd been some spirit of play in creating the part, refining it, watching it pass. There'd been pleasure in implying a personal history through purely dramatic effects of manner and speech without ever committing an expository lie, and pleasure in doubleness itself: there was more to me than people knew!" (109).

The best part is the ending, but I don't want to ruin it for you ;)
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Book #28

Jul. 27th, 2007 | 08:15 pm

This is a nonfiction book by Laura Jensen Walker called A Kiss is Still a Kiss: Celebrating the Moments That Make Marriage Last. It started off slow, as she tries to be funny but overdoes it a bit (I don't think I LOL'd even once). But as you get farther into the book, the advice becomes more tangible and meaningful. Though there wasn't any one part that really stuck out at me, I think her numerous examples of marriage relationships among friends, family, and acquaintances are encouraging and uplifting.
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Book #27 - A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Jul. 20th, 2007 | 12:00 am

I was so impressed with the first Hornby book I read, How to be Good, that I decided to put the rest of his books on my want-to-read list. Unfortunately, this book didn't quite live up to the reputation I'd built him in my mind, though there were several profound passages that I've excerpted for your reading enjoyment. Oh, and I give it three and a half stars.

Couple excerpts hereCollapse )

"We all spend so much time not saying what we want, because we know we can't have it. And because it sounds ungracious, or ungrateful, or disloyal, or childish, or banal. Or because we're so desperate to pretend that things are OK, really, that confessing to ourselves that they're not looks like a bad move. Go on, say what you want. Maybe not out loud, if it's going to get you into trouble. I wish I'd never married him. I wish she was still alive. I wish I'd never had kids with her. I wish I had a whole shitload of money. I wish all the Albanians would go back to f**king Albania. Whatever it is, say it to yourself. The truth will set you free. Either that or it'll get you a punch in the nose. Surviving in whatever life you're living means lying, and lying corrodes the soul..." (257-8).
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Book #26 - The New Spirit-Controlled Woman

Jul. 18th, 2007 | 09:25 pm

Wow. Five stars. Must-read for any woman.

This is a inspirational (Christian) non-fiction book by Beverly LaHaye. I picked it up about six months ago and didn't start it until last week, but once I started it, it only took me four days to finish. That's saying a lot for non-fiction, which tends to drag for me. I seriously underlined about 25% of the book, so there is no way I could pull out my favorite quotes/passages or even give you a decent synopsis. But I will say, I think every woman ought to read this book. I'm buying a copy for my friend italianina and for my mom. I've learned more about myself, my relationship with my husband, and my God from this book than I've learned from any other book, excepting the bible.

So a synopsis. The idea is that there are four temperaments: choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine, and melancholy. Everyone has a temperament that (s)he leans toward, and most have a significant secondary. I am a san-mel. The sanguine means that I'm loud, life of the party, funny, and fun to be around. It also means I'm sarcastic, have an awful mouth, unreliable, and self-absorbed. The melancholy means that I'm analytical, a deep thinker, intelligent, and really into music and art. It also means that I tend to get stuck in really pathetic pity-parties, that I hide from problems, and that I overreact to everything. Of course, these are only a few of the many, many characteristics of each tendency, but I just wanted to give you an idea. It's CREEPY how accurate it is.

Also, there is an interesting part that talks about what it means to be in a relationship with a man who is --fill in temperament here--. That was creepily accurate too, and it really gave me profound insight into my relationship with Tony, and others.

The POINT of the book, is for you to analyze, understand, and accept your tendencies, and then do everything in your power (and everything in the power of the Holy Spirit!!) to overcome your weaknesses. It is REALLY powerful. I am a DIFFERENT person.
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Updated to-read list

Jul. 11th, 2007 | 09:31 am

1. The Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson (Insp. F - J127ya)
2. Kim: Empty Inside by anonymous (YAPBF - 616.8526 K49)
3. The Bell Jar by Slyvia Plath (F - P7168be)
4. How to be Good by Nick Hornby (F - H8149ho)
5. Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon (F)
6. Cut by Patricia McCormick (F - M1315cu)
7. Push by Sapphire (F - S2418pu)
8. Lucky by Alice Sebold (NF - 364.1532)
9. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (own it)
10. Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah (YANF - 979.4 M214)
See MoreCollapse )
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Book #25 - Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

Jul. 10th, 2007 | 03:10 pm

At first I wasn't sure I was going to like this book, which was recommended to me by a college friend. I didn't know much about the subject matter, other than the fact that it's a non-fiction memoir, a coming-of-age novel about Burroughs who had an unbelievably dysfunctional childhood. I still had reservations in the first few chapters, but by the time I got halfway through it I couldn't put it down. I read a lot, and very few books are "page-turners" for me, so I was impressed. Granted, you might by uncomfortable with the book's content if you're really conservative, but if you can stomach A Child Called "It" or the like, you shouldn't have a problem with this book. It gets five stars from me.
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Book #24 - Finding Alice by Melody Carlson

Jun. 30th, 2007 | 07:12 pm

This was a really cute inspirational fiction book, recommended to me by irradescent. It's the first of Carlson's books that I've read, but I'll very likely read more in the future. I was tempted to say the book was incredible when I was about halfway through, but unfortunately, the end seemed to drag a bit. After much of the conflict was resolved, the book was just a little too predictable/cliche for me. However, I really liked the original storyline. It's about a college-age girl who begins suffering from schizophrenia/paranoia, and the horrible things that she faces as a result. It loosely paradies Alice in Wonderland which was a unique and clever touch. I'd give it four out of five stars. And I think grrl_next_door would like it.
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Book #23 - A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer

Jun. 24th, 2007 | 07:23 pm

No offense to any one of the millions of people who found this book worthy of being recognized by USA Today, a #1 New York Times Bestseller, or a #1 International Bestseller, but I was hugely disappointed. Two stars out of five. Here's why:

This book is great if you're looking for a "good" story. The story is amazing because it's a) unique and b) true. However, the book holds very little aesthetic value. The author isn't an amazing storyteller. Parts of the book drag. Many times it gets way too poetic for a prose piece (especially the HORRIBLE epilogue). Nothing about it screams "brilliantly written" and THAT is what I'm looking for in a book. Not to mention, if the story had not been true, there's no way it would have received this much attention. Or even half this much attention.

In short, it's a really awe-inspiring story told in an incredibly dull way. I personally think it takes a lot more talent to write about humdrum things in a way that makes them seem intriguing and inspiring. And, as I mentioned earlier, the epilogue detracts from the overall worth of the whole book by spelling out the books' moral word-for-word (think: "SHOW, DON'T TELL").

*BUT* I'm not sorry that I read it, as the story is enlightening. If anyone wants it, lemme know, I'll mail it to ya.
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Book #22 - True Notebooks by Mark Salzman

Jun. 22nd, 2007 | 10:43 pm

This is SERIOUSLY my new favorite book. I know what you're thinking: I've been saying that a lot recently. But Hornby's book was amazing to me because I related to it. Perks & Favorite Game are amazing because they're real without being angsty. This book is just flat-out amazing. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with it. Except that it ended.

READ IT!
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a MUST-SEE!

Jun. 18th, 2007 | 09:03 pm

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Book #21 - Even Dogs Go Home to Die

Jun. 17th, 2007 | 06:27 pm

This is a non-fiction firsthand account of Linda St. John's poverty stricken life. She talks about her whole family, even the extended family, and she moves out of her childhood into early adulthood, too.

The format is unconventional, in that each page (sometimes two pages) is a new chapter. It's a bit overwhelming at first, because you feel like you're reading someone else's memories (someone else with BAD ADD!). But you get used to it after a while.

In the end, it wasn't the most amazing or unique story, and you begin to think she's making things sound worse than they really were (as she spirals deeper and deeper into an endless abyss of self-pity). But it had some redeeming writing. I'd give it three out of five stars.
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For those about to write...

Jun. 15th, 2007 | 10:18 am

Some n00bs joined 1000penpals4god and have yet to receive comments. If anyone is looking for new pals, check it out!

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Updated to-read list

Jun. 9th, 2007 | 04:45 pm

1. The Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson (Insp. F - J127ya)
2. Kim: Empty Inside by anonymous (YAPBF - 616.8526 K49)
3. The Bell Jar by Slyvia Plath (F - P7168be)
4. How to be Good by Nick Hornby (F - H8149ho)
5. Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon (F)
6. My Soul to Take by Steven G. Spruill (F - S7166my)
7. Push by Sapphire (F - S2418pu)
8. Lucky by Alice Sebold (NF - 364.1532)
9. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (F - S4438lo)
10. Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah (YANF - 979.4 M214)
11. If I Ignore It, it Will Go Away: And Other Lies I Thought Were True by Marsha Marks (PBNF - 248.843 m346)
12. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt (NF - 929.2089916 M131)
13. Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail by Ruben Martinez (NF - 306.85089 M385)
14. True Notebooks by Mark Salzman (NF - 808.042 S186)
15. Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno (F - M5477ha)
16. Almost a Woman by Esmeralda Santiago (NF - 974.71 S235al)
17. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (F - K554po)
18. Running with Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs (NF - 813.6 B972)
19. Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison (F - A4384ba)
20. I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron (NF - 814.54 E63)
21. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (F - S6236pr)
22. Finding Alice by Melody Carlson (Ins F - C2847fi)
23. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (F - F4594br)
24. A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive by Dave Pelzer (NF - 362.76 P393)
25. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (F - M3764Li)

I've been reading quite a lot; other suggestions are still welcome!!
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book 19 - Kim: Empty Inside

Jun. 7th, 2007 | 02:16 pm

This is another diary written by an anonymous teenager, from the series edited by Beatrice Sparks. I've previously read Go Ask Alice and It Happened to Nancy, the themes of which were drug abuse and rape/AIDS, respectively. This book was about eating disorders, and it was definitely the least interesting of the three. It also made me kinda queasy at times, though it doesn't get too graphic. I probably would NOT recommend it.
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(no subject)

Jun. 6th, 2007 | 10:19 pm

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book 18 - angela's ashes by frank mccourt

Jun. 5th, 2007 | 07:46 pm

i really thought i'd never finish this book, even though it's only been a week. it read so much slower than everything else i've been reading. that's not to say it isn't good, it's just a slow read. anyway, there is one quote i really like. and that is...

it's lovely to know the world can't interfere with the inside of your head (202)

...isn't that a grand quote?

EDIT
Oh, and I guess some people might be interested in hearing what the book is about. It's Frank's nonfiction account of his childhood/adolescence, which is plagued by insane poverty. For instance, at one point his family is forced to pull boards off the walls of their home in order to burn them for heat. The house ends up collapsing as a result.
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yay, buy me!

Jun. 5th, 2007 | 02:31 pm

How much are you worth?
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Uh, explanation please?

May. 29th, 2007 | 09:33 pm

Will someone please explain to me the basics (including etiquette) of FBs, slams, and label bags? Don't forget to define NPW, NSW, LL, LLP, and WW. Thanks!!

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Book #17 - The Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson

May. 21st, 2007 | 09:22 pm

This is the first inspirational (in the traditional, spiritual sense) fiction novel that I've read in a long while, maybe only the second this year. It was recommended to me by irradescent, whom I'm going to meet in person very soon!

I thought it was a pretty good book, but it wasn't necessarily something I would choose for myself. A lot of that is due only to the fact that I've stopped reading Christianese fiction, buuuuuut, this is the sort of book that I would have loved a year ago (before I fell in love with Perks..).

I will say, however, that I felt strongly convicted, partially due to material in the book (and partially due to my own hypersensitive conscience) that led me to make a huge life-changing decision today.

If you pray, pray for me.
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Just a question...

May. 21st, 2007 | 09:13 pm

Who thinks I should get my nose pierced?

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Book #16

May. 16th, 2007 | 09:14 am

Just yesterday I finished the first book off my summer reading list, Push by Sapphire. It was probably the most graphic, real [fiction] book I've ever read. Imagine Perks of Being a Wallflower meets It Happened to Nancy multiplied by 5 on the heart-wrenching scale. I mean, it wasn't the type of book that makes you cry (I didn't), but more the type that forces you to gain new perspective. I read it in two days.

Summary [POTENTIAL SPOILER] below, taken from the book flapCollapse )
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stolen from grrl_next_door

May. 11th, 2007 | 10:28 am

Confession MemeCollapse )
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book 15 - Time Lottery by Nancy Moser

May. 11th, 2007 | 10:24 am

This is the first inspirational fiction book I've read in a while; I picked it up a few months ago from the clearance rack of Family Christian. I've begged off inspirational romance, because it tends to be so unrealistic and contrived, but this book was actually kinda sci-fi.

It's about this corporation who discovers a way to isolate the portion of the brain that stores memories, and then manipulate the brain so that the person, in effect, "time travels" by remembering him or herself back to that period of time, and then living in the remembered state (like a dream, only one you don't come out of). It sounds pretty far-fetched, but it was written really well - it's actually very credible - and I would recommend it (if you like insp fic). I gave it a 3.5 out of 5.
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