This Girl's Bookshelf: 2009 - Book reviews and bookish thoughts

Review: The Rainbow, D. H. Lawrence (Librivox)

I always have a book I'm reading, and I always have a book I'm listening to as well. Librivox is a fantastic resource for public domain audiobooks, read by volunteers. I'm a knitter, and I like to listen to a book while I knit. Recently I finished listening to The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence.

I had already read the fantastic Women in Love for a history class before reading The Rainbow. Lawrence's Women in Love details the most recent generation of the Brangwen family, sisters Ursula and Gudrun. The Rainbow is the story of three generations of Brangwens, from the Brangwen sisters' grandparents to the sisters themselves.

In a nutshell, The Rainbow is about a family's lives and loves. The book has a very grand scale because of the amount of time it encompasses, and the number of different people experiencing love and desire in similar and different ways.

Because the book spans three generations, one must be careful to keep the characters distinct. I found it a little difficult, especially with the first generation of Brangwens and the second. When you categorize characters into wide boxes such as 'the husband' and 'the wife', since most books only have one of each of those characters, it's easy to get them mixed up when a book has several of each!

I found Lawrence's writing style generally pleasant, though sometimes getting a bit too philosophical for me. In Women in Love, every conversation the sisters or their men had was a Very Deep One indeed, and there isn't as much of that in this one, but plenty of introspective internal dialogue. Reading either book will certainly get you thinking.

I might never have read this book if I hadn't found it as a free audibook on Librivox. I like to unwind by knitting and watching TV or listening to something, so I enjoy audiobooks very much. The quality of Librivox audibooks can vary, even from chapter to chapter with a single book. This recording was all done by a single reader, which was nice. The quality is generally good, though some people might find the reader's voice a bit grating. There were a few mispronunciations I found occasionally distracting, but for the most part the reading is fluent and easy to understand.

"Indeed, it was true as they said, that a man wasn't born before he was married. What a change indeed! [...] When he was a child, he had thought a woman was a woman merely by virtue of her skirts and petticoats. And now, lo, the whole world could be
divested of its garment, the garment could lie there shed away intact, and one could stand in a new world, a new earth, naked in a new, naked universe. It was too astounding and miraculous."

Length: 5/10 (1 is the Cliffs Notes, 10 is Shakespeare's entire oeuvre) The book is hefty enough, but it feels like it goes quickly because it's like three stories in one book.
Grade: 90%. The Rainbow is a wonderful, enjoyable, rewarding read.

Book Review Blog Carnival #25!

Today I am hosting the Book Review Blog Carnival. If you're a blogger who has written a review recently, you can submit your review for the next edition of the carnival. The Book Review Blog Carnival runs every two weeks. In addition, I and all the other book reviewers in this carnival would appreciate it if you blogged about the carnival!

There were a ton of great submissions this time around, so I'm breaking them up into some rough categories.

Reader in Mind reviews Allah is Not Obliged, a fictional journal set in northern Africa.
The Hungarian Bookkeeper revisits a classic, Don Quijote (part 1).
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett at Chewing a Leaf.
The Expanding Life reviews Hattie Big Sky and ruminates over stories of pioneer women.
There's a review in The Viewspaper of one of my favorites, Margaret Atwood's dystopian Oryx and Crake.
Zinemark reviews Twenties Girl, a romance and ghost story.
I'll Never Forget the Day I Read a Book! reviews Thomas Pynchon's latest, Inherent Vice.
BooksForSale? reviews Shift by Jennifer Bradbury.

Novels: Mystery/Thriller
Mysteries in Paradise reviews Lord Edgware Dies, an Agatha Christie novel also known as Thirteen at Dinner.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a mystery with a philatelic (stamp collecting) twist, at The Hungarian Bookkeeper.
Eye of the Whale is an 'ecological thriller', reviewed at How to Make a Difference with a preview of the first chapter.
An audiobook edition of James Patterson's 8th Confession over at Melissa's Bookshelf.
The audiobook of Death of a Dormouse at Mysteries in Paradise.
At Necromancy Never Pays, there's a review of The Language of Bees, a book starring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes.
Mysteries in Paradise reviews The Build Up, an Australian mystery.
Mysteries in Paradise also reviewed Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child.

Other fiction
Fists, a short story collection reviewed at The Truth about Lies.
Chewing a Leaf speaks her mind on Kitchen, a set of two stories by Banana Yoshimoto.
Doctor Brodie's Report, a short story collection by Jorge Luis Borges, at The Truth about Lies.

Nonfiction: Memoirs
Iran Awakening is over at Things Mean a Lot, a book which has been on my to-read list for quite some time.
A guest post at Home School Dad: Trudi's Garden, a memoir about much more than gardening.
BookDads reviews A Worthy Legacy, "the record of a grandfather’s wisdom [and] an evocative memoir of family life in Nigeria".
The Symposium introduces us to an extremely intriguing book, Cult Insanity: A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement.

Other Nonfiction
I Want to Teach Forever talks about the book that made her love math again, Professor Stewart's Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities.
A DIY guide to your own green energy, Homebrew Wind Power gets reviewed at Frugally Green.
Money Blue Book goes over their favorite Personal Finance Books.
And Bargaineering reviews one of those books more in-depth, the Total Money Makeover.
At Read and Lead, there is a writeup on the 40th Anniversary of the Moon Landing, with related books.

Coco le Cochon is a taste of France, with a interview with the author by Misadventures with Andi.
A review of Here's How I See it/Here's How it is at BooksForSale?.

Keep reviewing, bloggers! I have a few reviews of my own to finish, so I'll see you next time.


Movie Review: The Time Traveler's Wife

Doing something a little different today because I recently went and saw the new film The Time Traveler's Wife. The film, starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, is based on the novel of the same name by Audrey Niffenegger.

A few summers ago, over the course of three days, I devoured this monster 560-page romance-cum-SF novel, the very first novel of the author and only one to date. Her next novel, a ghost story by the name of Her Fearful Symmetry, is set to be released at the end of September.

The Time Traveller's Wife Traveler's Eric Bana Rachel McAdams film poster reviewTime Traveler's Wife Audrey Nifenegger book cover review

The film version of The Time Traveler's Wife just came out, with a mostly starry cast and a bit of fanfare. How does it stack up to the novel that left me with summer reading whiplash?

The Time Traveler's Wife is, in a nutshell, a time travel story and a love story like nothing you've ever seen. It's a classic story of true love with a very large twist. It's incredibly hard to explain -- Every time I try to explain the plot of this novel to someone, I am met with blank stares. Sorry. Basically, my advice is to read the book, then you'll understand.

The movie version of The Time Traveler's Wife manages to remain more faithful than most movie adaptations I have seen. Much is cut, but little is changed and the soul of the story remains intact. The emotional impact is somewhat lessened on the screen, but... well, I still cried.

Reading the book The Time Traveler's Wife, I spent three days spending 40 years (give or take) with the characters, feeling the love between them and living their lives with them. The movie manages to fit the plot into a scant 100 minutes, leaving me feeling rushed and like something was missing. You can't do a massive book like this justice in just an hour and a half.

The acting was wonderful, particularly the adorable child actor portraying Alba. The only time I felt pulled out of the world of the movie was seeing Ron Livingston (of Office Space fame) in the role of Gomez - an important character in the novel, reduced to a face and a name in the movie. All characters who are not Eric Bana or Rachel McAdams get precious little screen time in the movie, because the movie has no room for anything but the main couple's relationship.

Length: Too short. There's a lot to the book that made it such a gripping read, that stuck with me long after I had finished reading it. The film was very enjoyable, and very good, but somewhat forgettable. I don't think people will be talking about it years later.
Grade: 89/100. Scores better than most adaptations of novels. The filmmakers committed no mortal sins. However, it really should have been longer.


Apes raised by people - collection of reviews

The guestblogger over at BoingBoing this week, Carrie McLaren, has written up a collection of mini-reviews of books about people raising chimpanzees, monkeys, and gorillas in their families. It's fascinating stuff, especially how different people go about it - treating them as pets or more or less like children.

Books by People who have raised Apes in their Homes

Included are Nim Chimpsky, a 'signing' chimp many linguistics students will be familiar with, and a slew of other apes and interesting anecdotes that make me want to give these books a look.

Viki picked up some of the Hayes' other habits, however. In the morning, she would run out to get the newspaper, sit on the couch and hold it as if scanning headlines, then turn pages one by one as if reading. After seeing "mom" Cathy trying to remove a clothing stain, she started dabbing a washcloth on some clothing herself.

Fascinating stuff!


My To-Read list - Nonfiction

I've got quite a large stack of books currently, mostly from BookMooch or through gifts. Most of the books on my list are novels, but there are quite a few non-fiction books as well. Here are just a few of the non-fiction books I'll be reading in the next few months.

Science: I'm not a 'scientific' person by any means, but there are a number of topics in the sciences that interest me. I don't like to read anything too dense, so science books aimed at the general population appeal to me.

Social topics: People fascinate me. The ways they live, the difficulties they face, the ways they interact, it's all very interesting to me.

Books about Iran: I've been studying the Persian language in school, which has ignited a fire in me for learning about Persian culture and politics, especially with the recent goings-on in Iran. Some books I've previously enjoyed about Iran are Persepolis, Reading Lolita in Tehran, and Translating the Garden.


New poll (movie books) and new layout

As you may have noticed, This Girl's Bookshelf now has a new layout. It is still highly experimental (read: I am not a web designer) so if anyone has any problems with the new layout let me know ASAP. Suggestions are welcome also. :)

The previous poll has closed. The question was, How long do you prefer books to be? There were 28 votes and here are the results:

Less than 150 pages14% (4)
150-250 pages14% (4)
250-350 pages39% (11)
350-450 pages14% (4)
450+ pages17% (5)

As expected, most of you prefer books somewhere in the middle - that is, 250-350 pages long. Not too long, not too short. However, a number of you like them very long too!

The next poll is about movies based on books. There are a number of big book movies coming out, such as the Twilight series, Harry Potter 6, The Time Traveler's Wife and The Lovely Bones, which I recently reviewed. What do you like to do with book movies? Do you read first or watch first? Or do one or the other? Vote in the poll and leave your comments here. :)


June Adgitize Advertising program Payment

I just received my monthly payment from Adgitize, a blog ad network that you can see on the sidebar and bottom of the page. I have been using Adgi for a few months now and it is really paying off! This month's payment was $21.28, which pays for my $14 advertising cost (I ran an ad for my knitting blog) and gives me $7 extra.

The Adgitize program is based on a points system, which then determines how much you earn. The maximum number of points you can earn per day is 500: 100 points for being an advertiser, 100 points for clicking ads, 100 points for page views on your website, 100 points for ad views on your website (you can have up to 10 ads on your page), and 100 points for publishing an article every day.

Adgetize your web site with the Adgitize Advertising Program for bloggers

I am very happy with the Adgitize program, and if you already use Entrecard then I can't recommend it enough. The two services work perfectly together, because many Adgitize blogs are also Entrecard blogs. At the same time you drop, you can also click the Adgitize ads. So basically, I am earning money for things I already do like drop Entrecards and post to my blogs. I am getting paid to advertise!

The Adgitize advertising program, besides earning me a few extra bucks each month for things I already do (visit blogs, write blog posts), has also brought me almost 2,000 visits in the last month. What blog couldn't use 2,000 extra monthly visits? I really, really, really can't recommend the Adgitize Advertising Program enough.


Book Review Blog Carnival at INFtDIRaB

Over at I'll Never Forget the Day I Read a Book! (what a great title!), the 21st Book Review Blog Carnival has been posted.

There's a huge variety of a ton of book reviews for you to go over and read, so check it out! If you have a book blog, you can also submit your reviews for the next edition or apply to host the carnival. The Book Review Blog Carnival is bi-weekly.


My favorite book source, BookMooch

So, I'm a college student. That means I don't have a lot of cash to spend on books, however voracious my appetite may be. The library is great, but the two libraries in my area don't always have what I'm looking for, and sometimes I really would like to own a book, to read it over and over or to pass it on to a friend.

That's when I turn to BookMooch. BookMooch is a book-swapping site - there are others out there, and I can't vouch for whether they're good or bad, but I've loved using BookMooch. It's easy to use, free, and the people there have been very nice.

Bookmooch website graphic alien person receiving a swapped book for free in the mail from Book Mooch

In addition, there are book moochers all around the world - It doesn't matter what country you're living in or what language you speak (or what language you want to read!), you can still use Bookmooch. Many people will ship internationally. You have the option whether you want to always accept international mooches, never accept them, or have the moocher ask you first if you'd be willing to send the book. I've mooched books from several countries, in a few different languages, and I've sent books to a few other countries myself. I usually can't send heavy hardcovers overseas, but I'm always willing to ship a small paperback. That's why I love the "ask me first" option.

You list your collection of books you're willing to part with - I had a TON, mostly children's books - and if someone wants your book, they "mooch" the book from you, giving you points. You send it to them (media mail is cheap), and you have points to spend towards a book that you want. Bookmooch organizes it all for you, so books are easy to list and find.

Listing a book gives you .1 points, so if you have 10 books you want to give away, you can mooch a book yourself right away. I find that my points build up pretty quickly - I send out more books than I mooch - and if you've got points that you don't want, you can give them to any of a number of charities that have partnered with BookMooch. Give some books to a new school, or a library in Kosovo. Makes you feel good, doesn't it?

I can't ever bear throwing books away, and I love that with Bookmooch, my books will go to people who will enjoy them as much as I did. It's a really great service that has kept me in summer reading for the past two years! So I recommend that you mooch a book today!

By the way, I'm not making any money off of this ;) I'm recommending it because I love this site and Bookmooch has kept me in books when money is tight. And the more people that use Bookmooch, the more books we can all share. Isn't that swell?


Review: The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold

Buy The Lovely Bones Lovley book novel cover Alice Sebold Seabold charm bracelet blue

Here's one of those books that I've always meant to read, but didn't get around to it until now. I'd seen the bright blue cover all over bookstores, with the enigmatic charm bracelet and clean text. Mysterious. And very, very popular. There is a sticker on my hardback copy: "Read this! Good Morning America." It's been a huge bestseller, gotten critical acclaim, there's a movie in the works to be released next year. So what's all this fuss about? What is The Lovely Bones anyway?

The Lovely Bones, is, in a nutshell, about a murdered girl. But it's also about so much more than that.

Fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon, our narrator, is murdered at the beginning of the story. An older neighbor lures her to his backyard, into a fort he dug in the ground, rapes her and kills her.

But this isn't a murder mystery, and it isn't a horror. It isn't a religious book, or anything like that. After describing the events surrounding her death, Susie spends the majority of the book sitting up in her heaven, watching her family and friends deal with life after loss.

That's all she can do, for the most part. It may be a comfort to some people to think that the dead miss us as much as we miss them. Susie longs to talk to her family, to help them fill in the hole she left, to live her life that had so much potential until it was cut short. But Susie does not dwell upon this, and overall I would not say it is a sad book - though there are certainly many sad parts.

But mainly the story is about learning to move on. The family are crippled by grief at first, and Susie watches as they come to terms and go on with their lives, some more slowly than others. Their desire for healing, for justice, and for happiness are explored.

Susie is in heaven - not the Heaven, but her heaven. It's a heaven tailor-made for her, with all the things she likes. Those that share these desires, share bits of her heaven with her. It's not a Judeo-Christian Heaven and there is no mention of Hell, or any gods or angels or any of that. Susie resides in her own heaven, full of simple childish pleasures until she, too, can learn to move on, and let go of her obsession with her life as her family lets go of their obsession with her death.

"Our heaven had an ice cream shop where, when you asked for peppermint stick ice cream, no one ever said 'It's seasonal'; it had a newspaper where our pictures appeared a lot and made us look important... I could not have what I wanted most: Mr. Harvey dead and me living. Heaven wasn't perfect. But I came to believe that if I watched closely, and desired, I might change the lives of those I loved on Earth."
Length: 4/10 (1 is Dick and Jane, 10 is War and Peace) You can breeze through this pretty quickly. There aren't many sections that I would say 'drag on'. It's substantial but quick to read.
Grade: 85% A worthwhile read, to be sure. Full of a wide range of emotions - sadness, grief, yearning, but also love, suspense, and sweetness - but never sappy. The writing is smooth and pleasant, and in places quite beautiful.


Now Entrecard-enabled

Welcome! There's a pretty good chance you've found this blog via Entrecard. This blog got accepted into the program a few days ago and I am now doing regular drops from here and my knitting blog Joyarna. Since this blog is still small, I will try to reciprocate drops for anyone who drops on me. :)

This Girl's Bookshelf is a book review blog. I'll post my thoughts, lists, and other stuff, but the main meat of the blog will be reviews -- which will be posted as fast as I can read. ;) Stay tuned tomorrow for my review of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

Until then, take a look around, and vote in my poll. :) Drop me a comment if you like. I love comments and suggestions!


Book length poll

I will be running regular polls regarding your preferences about the books you read, or the books I should review. You can see the current poll in the sidebar to your left. They will close when they reach a certain number of answers; then I will release the results and put up a new poll.

The first poll question is How long do you prefer books to be? Do you like little books you can read in a day or do you prefer long, massive, multi-volume epics? Or perhaps somewhere in between?

Leave your comments on this post after voting, and tell me what you think!


Review: Chocolat, Joanne Harris

Chocolat Chocolate Joanne Harris novel roman cover Johnny Depp film France

Chocolat is one of the rare cases where I watched the movie before getting a chance to read the book. Normally I prefer to read a novel prior to watching the film adaptation, because the book, 9 times out of 10, contains more detail and if just better overall. I watched the film Chocolat before I even knew there was a novel it was based on.

Chocolat is, in a nutshell, about a clever, emancipated, and somewhat magical chocolatier.

Vianne Rocher (sometimes Jeanne, sometimes Anne, sometimes Sylviane) travels across the world with her daughter, Anouk, in the tradition set by her mother. The mother and daughter settle in the quiet town of Lansquenet (for how long, she does not know), opening a chocolate shop and ruffling more than a few feathers. Vianne does not attend church. She asks too many questions. She opens her shop on the first day of Lent, and does not close on Sundays.

The basic plotline has been done before; it's nothing special. The new girl in town shakes up the stuffy townspeople, changing their outlook and breaking through their prejudices! But the relationships in Chocolat are what really shine - and I'm not merely speaking about romantic ones. In fact, the romance which is so prominent on the film's poster - and, consequentially, the cover of my movie edition of the book - barely takes up a chapter in the novel. Instead, the personal platonic relationships between Vianne and the townspeople of Lansquenet make up the majority of the text and are very rewarding. Vianne is clever and calm, always seeming to know the correct path in everyone's life but her own.

The book is set in France, but not to worry - it includes no more than a few words of Kindergarten French (Do you understand the title? Chocolat? You'll do fine.) The only significant piece of French in the book is the following bit of song:

V'là l'bon vent, v'là l'joli vent,
V'là l'bon vent, ma mie m'appelle
V'là l'bon vent, v'là l'joli vent,
V'là l'bon vent, ma mie m'attend.

Which is a Quebecois folk song that translates to:
Here's the good wind, here's the pretty wind,
Here's the good wind, my friend calls me.
Here's the good wind, here's the pretty wind,
Here's the good wind, my friend awaits me.

And here's how it sounds.

Vianne is something of a witch - not in a powerful, magic wands, Harry Potter sort of way, more that she possesses a whole slew of superstitions inherited from her mother. She takes her tarot cards, healing herbs, and magical gestures and puts her own spin on them - such as scrying in melted chocolate. The "magic" in Chocolat is firmly on the sidelines - It's like magical realism, or a fairy tale where a tiny bit of magic exists: wishing on stars, or dreams brought to life, or friendly helping spirits. No one event in the book can be firmly attributed to the supernatural - maybe it's real, maybe not. But if not, how could...?

Chocolat is like a fairy tale in more ways than one - the story is quite timeless. While the film is quite clearly set in the late 1950s or early 1960s, the novel makes precious few references to the period in which it is set. With the exception of a passing mention here or there, of television, or automobiles, it could have been set as easily in the 1800s as the '80s. This is in line with the theme of the Old Ways throughout the book - Vianne coming into town and shaking up the Old Way of Life, Vianne struggling herself to break out of her mother's identity, the Old pagan beliefs against the Church... Vianne's beliefs are both old and new, predating Christianity and being revived in a town that has forgotten any other way of life than their current one. Anouk is the only child in school who does not attend church, asking dangerous questions of the priest who comes in to explain the story of Easter to them.

The tale is not told merely from Vianne's eyes - the chapters are split 50/50, or maybe 66/33, between Vianne and the Curé Reynaud. Interestingly, it is implied that Reynaud's chapters are actually overheard by Vianne, through her chocolate-scrying. The difference in writing is not the only thing differentiating the two speakers: Their chapters are set in two different fonts. Reynaud's text is narrow and bold, with heading in thick script. Vianne's is elegant, thin, and flowery. It is an interesting design choice that helps further separate the voices of the two narrators.

I have enjoyed Chocolat, both the book and the movie. Would my opinion of the film have changed if I had read the book before seeing it? Perhaps. I am going to have to give the film a second viewing now that I've read the book. Currently, I enjoyed both and would recommend either one. Johnny Depp as an Irish Gypsy? Yes please. Even if in the novel Roux is a redhead from Marseille...

"Before Christ - before Adonis was born in Bethlehem or Osiris sacrificed at Easter - the cocoa bean was revered. Magical properties were attributed to it. Its brew was sipped on the steps of sacrificial temples; its ecstasies were fierce and terrible."

Length: 4/10 It's a slim book, and can be read through in less than a week. My copy is 306 pages, but it felt shorter than that.
Grade: 76% Intriguing, with wonderful characters, if a mite too short. The plot is a bit stale and it's nothing truly exceptional, but still very enjoyable.

Help Save Ohio Libraries - Columbus and beyond

Ohio libraries are in trouble. In the next two years, the Columbus Metropolitan Library system will have their funding cut by 50%, according to a proposal by the governor. These funding cuts will result in the closing of branches and ending of programs, not even to mention the ordering of new books.

The library is very important to me and it is likely important for you too. The books, computers, and activities provided by the library are an important part of the community.

See the CML website for more information, including a form to email your legislators and senators to shoot this proposal down.
Save Ohio Libraries

There are six days left: Don't delay!

Books for your Dad

So maybe you've been putting it off. You still haven't gotten your dad something for Father's Day. It's on Sunday! What are you going to do?! Books are one of my favorite things to give as gifts, because they spark conversations and they show that you know what interests the gift recipient.

Think about your dad, and think about what kind of books he would like for Father's Day.

-Science Fiction Is he stressed out? Give the gift of a little fun escapism.

-Sports You can't watch ballgames 24/7. Reading a good sports book is the next best thing.

-History. Is Dad a history buff? Give him some of the greatest stories of the past to relive.

-Thriller. Everyone likes a good page-turner.

-Graphic novels. If your dad's a baby boomer, he probably grew up on superhero comic books. Let him relive some of that nostalgia with some more grownup comics.

-Audiobooks. Audiobooks are great if your dad is a busy person who travels a lot. Long commute? You can listen in the car! Perfect for multitasking.

Good luck with your shopping!


Review: A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby

A Long Way Down British humour novel by Nick Hornby comedy suicide black gallows humor

I love Nick Hornby. I read High Fidelity and About a Boy, and saw the films for each (starring John Cusack and Hugh Grant, respectively), and loved them both. A Long Way Down is one of Hornby's more recent novels, released in 2005.

A Long Way Down is, in a nutshell, about suicide. Or a lack thereof. The story is told from the points of view of four different characters, each of whom seeks to end their life at the beginning of the book. Of course, they don't, or else it would be a rather short book indeed.

The book is long on Hornby's characteristic sharp wit and English phraseology. He tells the events from each character's eyes distinctively, from the demure, homely churchgoing Maureen to the American guitarist-cum-pizzaboy JJ. Not only do the voices of the characters show through in their respective chapters, but subtle changes in the writing itself show how each of the characters acts: for instance, troubled teen Jess never cared to learn how quotations marks are used, so she doesn't use them.

Each character has their own voice that rings true. You could almost believe that Hornby really was an 18-year-old-girl, or a scandalous TV talk show host like Martin Sharp (whose name draws many puns in tabloid headlines). The characters are multidimensional and interesting, and it's intriguing to read on as more and more secrets are revealed about their lives and their pasts.

Unfortunately, the best part of the book is the first scene. The characters meet, a friendship is formed, and then... and then what? The book is divided into three parts, and each part is weaker than the preceding one. And in the end, well, perhaps it is symbolic of life in general, but there is no real satisfactory conclusion to the book. It ends, and perhaps the characters are a little better off than they started, but nothing is really solved. They just live to fight another day.

"Everything has to be wrapped up, with a smile and a tear and a wave. Everyone has learned, found love, seen the error of their ways, discovered the joys of monogamy, or fatherhood, or filial duty, or life itself. In my day, people got shot at the end of films, after learning that life is hollow, dismal, brutish, and short."

Length: 3/10 (1 is Goodnight Moon, 10 is The Lord of the Rings) This took me 4 or 5 days to read through, pulling me in with the rapt attention that Hornby's novels always provoke in me. It's not a very thick book, and you can get through it pretty quickly.
Grade: 84% A Long Way Down starts out fabulous with a great concept and living, breathing characters, but starts losing steam as the story progresses without a satisfying conclusion.


Open to Suggestions, and about my reviews

I have a very large pile of books waiting to be read, but I'm always open to suggestions of books you'd like me to review. Just leave me a comment or drop me an email, and I will add it to my list. If it's already on my list, I'll bump it up a few places. I give the people what they want!

I hope this blog will serve some use to people. I always like to check what other people think before I read a book, to know whether it's worth my time or not. When I find someone with interests and sensibilities similar to mine, I pay attention to what they think because if that person likes a book, chances are that I will too. So if you're like me, and you'll probably find out whether you are or not after reading a few of my reviews, my book reviews will be useful.

Each review post will contain a few common elements:

  • A nutshell summary, a word or a sentence that will explain the bare bones of the story. If you're skimming, skim here first.
  • A basic rundown of the plot and characters.
  • My thoughts on the book, naturally. It's a review, so I'm telling you what I think of it, the good points and the bad.
  • The length: I don't mean just numbers of pages, I mean whether it's a quick weekend read or a month-long drudge. Does it move at a quick pace? Is it a real page-turner? Or is it one of those things that you'll return to every few weeks when you have nothing else to do?
  • And finally, a grade, out of 100.

Some of my interests include linguistics, science, travel, and history. I like literary novels and classics but don't shy away from genre fiction either. I love comics but not superheroes. I'm a stereotypical nerd except that I'm a girl, and I don't really play video games. And I'm terrible at math. And I knit. Well, maybe I'm not that stereotypical. But I'm me, anyway. Enjoy my blog.


Welcome to my bookshelf

Welcome to This Girl's Bookshelf, my reading blog. This blog is all about the books I am reading - primarily summer reading. I am a college student, and I get most of my leisure reading done in the summertime months. I try to devour as many books as I can in the summer, because I have precious little time to do so otherwise.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for book reviews, recommendations, and other literary miscellanea. Thanks for stopping by!