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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Book Review - The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell



The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell

Another book I normally wouldn't have picked, but saw it on another blog, "A riveting, brilliantly written debut novel, The Death of Bees is a coming-of-age story in which two young sisters attempt to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parents."

Sounds pretty interesting huh?

Told in alternative voices - the two sisters and their neighbor, the voices were quite strong. Though it did take some time getting used to the slangs and language used. This is definitely a character driven novel, as the characters are much stronger than the plot which is a shame because I was expecting the secrets to be more mind-blowing.

I guess once again, my love for murder/mystery books tinted my expectation of other books that had a mysterious element... which didn't turn out to be much of a twist after all.

3 Stars.



Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Book Review - Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan




Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Started off listening to it as an audio book when feeding the baby. Then had to return it before I had a chance to finish, and ended up borrowing the book instead. I still like reading more than listening, since I can't seem to remember as much about the plot and got distracted when listening. Guess I am just a visual person.

Anyway.

It was a fun read - it's another puzzle/code-breaking book (read another code-breaking one not too long ago - The Cross Examination of Oliver Finney by Randy Singer), and this time, happened at a book store! Couldn't it be more exciting?

Yeah I am a nerd.

While I had fun reading it though, I think the overall story was just okay. Definitely more plot driven than character driven, which I usually prefer, but I need stories with a bit more emotion. I think this would actually make a better TV movie than a book, because I think the visual would be stunning. You know how there are chic lit for girls? This one would be a good dude lit, especially to the younger crowd.

I still want to work in a book store :)

3 Stars.


Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Bye Bye Google Reader


As most of you probably know, Google Reader is going bye-bye.

Panic... was my first thought... "I am going to loose all my feeds!! There are so many I subscribe to, how can I find them all?!"

Of course, a simple Google search shows that you can easily export/import it to another reader. Phew.

So I gave http://www.netvibes.com/ a try. It even imported all the folders I had. Yay. Decided to clean up a bit... wow, I didn't know soooo many book blogs hadn't been updated for a long, long time. Sadly still, I didn't even notice they hadn't been updated...

So let's hope I'd connect with all of you more, now that I hope my life is 0.01% more predictable with an infant, rather than a newborn.

Can you believe it? He's over 7 months already... Normally that'd have meant I'd read about 70 books in that time frame. But, try changing 1000 diapers instead.

And that's a conservative estimate.

PS - now that I have used netvibes for a couple of days, customizing it, I actually like it quite a lot... esp in widget form. More so than Google Reader... dare I say. Ummm.


All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review - Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy by Susan Spencer-Wendel, Bret Witter



Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy by Susan Spencer-Wendel, Bret Witter

I don't think I'd teared up so much while reading a book. How could you not, when you read about Susan, who has ALS, deteriorates over time. You are touched by her strength, her courage, her positive attitude, and her love and joy for life; but yet, you can't help but feel sad for her and her husband and her 3 children. I know she wouldn't want us to feel sorry for her, so I won't.

I definitely appreciate this book more now that I have a child. And I can't imagine what I'd do if I was in her shoes.

In a way, this book reminded me of  The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, Jeffrey Zaslow a bit that both Susan and Randy wrote their respective books as a gift for their children, because they know they won't be around when they grow up. And what a gift. It is also a love tribute to her husband, as you can read between the lines the love they have for each other.

An interesting tidbit - because of ALS, Susan who was a reporter, cannot type or write anymore. So she pretty much wrote her whole book using an iPhone with one thumb that she still has control of. She couldn't even use an iPad because the keyboard is too widely spaced for her to move her thumb. Can you imagine.

Go read this one. I have dog-eared so many pages that I would have to read those passages when I feel down in the future. Then I'll remember how lucky I have it. Sometimes we need a kick in the butt like that.

4.5 Stars.

Note - The ARC was given from HarperCollins free in exchange for an unbiased review



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Book Review - Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath by Mimi Alford



Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath by Mimi Alford

Since I didn't grow up in the US, I am not very fascinated with Kennedys (though I love Jackie O's style!) This was a book club read, or I probably wouldn't have picked it up.

It is an easy read, as it reads like a gossip magazine. It is interesting to read about the behind-the-scene details at the White House.

There were some controversies in the book, so that made it a good discussion for the book club. Fun to read, but not my favorite memoir.

3 Stars.

Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Book Review - Lessons From Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living In Paris by Jennifer Scott



Lessons From Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living In Paris by Jennifer Scott

After having a baby, you can't blame me for wanting to look put together again, despite the comfort of living in yoga pants and t-shirts at home.

I have to say though, I haven't really learned many new things from this book, probably because I have read about the tips from various sources before. Though it is nice to have them altogether. At times, the author sounded a bit snobbish (though she said she wasn't trying to be... so she realized that she might sound snobbish or she wouldn't have said so!)

The two tips that stood out to me were - the minimal number of clothing items French people have and how they make it work; and also, the food they eat - now I'd read a little bit about French's meal/food habit from another book last year (French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen Le Billon... which I haven't reviewed yet...) but this goes a little more details into how the adults eat too not just the kids. I don't think I'd have trouble adopting their eating habits if I live in France! Though I do like snacks every so often...

Not a bad read, just didn't get as much out of it as I'd hoped. I thought the whole book is about fashion/clothing, but that's only a small portion of it so I was a bit disappointed.

3 Stars.


Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Book Review - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce



The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Not a book I'd have picked, based on its title or front cover. But I saw it mentioned a few times as a "Top 10 of 2012" from various bloggers' end of year reviews, so thought I'd try something different.

The pace is a bit slower than my liking, but that matches the story (WALKING from the south end of England to the north... NOT flying or driving or running!) There is a little bit of mystery (why did Henry have to go see Queenie?) and the characters seem realistic.

What makes me think the most though, is the relationship between Henry and his wife...
[SPOILER] how could they have gone from such a loving couple to such strangers to each other? I think it made me think of my relationship to my husband - no, we aren't strangers, or anywhere close to that stage, but with a new baby, and gong back to work full time, I admit that we've neglected our relationship a bit because we're usually so busy or tired... so it made me wonder what we can do to change it for the better. [/SPOILER]

I was actually expecting more (probably because of all the praises) - it isn't quite thought provoking or inspirational as I'd hoped it to be. I don't regret reading it, but it also didn't wow me.

3 Stars.

Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.

Book Review - Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio



Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

I remember other bloggers mentioned loving Jio's other book, The Violets of March. I had borrowed that book previously, but didn't get around to reading it. When I saw Blackberry Winter at the library, I thought the premise sounded interesting. Plus, we're still snowing here in the midwest... it seems fitting to read about a winter tale right? Reading about tropical islands right now would make me too jealous :)

It was easy to suck into the story. The writing was easy to read - which is great for me right now because I am usually tired (working full time with a 7m old) so I am really reading to entertain. I have to say though, probably because of my love for murder/mystery/thriller books, I could guess the ending / twists and turns pretty much right from the start. I kept reading just to see if I was right...

The characters are okay, some seem to be too perfect, and there seems to be a bit too many coincidences in the plot... but I enjoyed reading it.

3 Stars.

Note - The book was borrowed from the library.



All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.