Framed's 2006 Book Reviews

A list of reviews I've done during 2006. Books are rated from 1 to 5, with 5 being a stellar read. Book reviews with a 5 rating are bolded.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

2006 Books Read

Here is an alphabetic listing of the books I've read since I started my book blog in April. The format is title, author, date reviewed originally, and my rating of the book. If you want to read the review, just scroll down until you find the date. I've copied review plus comments from my Framed and Booked blog, leaving out the bookcover pictures. The books I liked the best are bolded.
1. Abraham Lincoln by Benajmin Thomas, July 30, Rating: 5
2. Almost Sisters by Nancy Anderson,, July 18, Rating: 3
3. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, June 24 Rating: 3.75
4. Baby Proof by Emily Giffin, November 8, Rating: 4
5. The Bartimaeus Trilogy (3 Books) by Jonathon Stroud, August 17, Rating: 4.5
6. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, December 26, Rating 4.25
7. Brainiac by Ken Jennings, November 28, Rating: 4.5
8. Breathing Lessons by Anny Tyler, May 20, 2006, Rating: 2
9. Burned by Carol Higgins Clark, October 5, Rating: 1
10. Chamomile Mourning by Laura Childs, October 9, Rating: 4.25
11. Chile Death by Susan Wittig Albert, October 2, Rating: 4.25
12. Chocolate Therapy by Dianne Crabtree, October 7, Rating: 3
13. Cold Company by Sue Henry, June 26, Rating: 3
14. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, June 4, Rating: 4
15. A Covington Christmas by Joan Medlicott, May 20, Rating: 3
16. Devils Corner by Lisa Scottoline, October 13, Rating: 4.5
17. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominque Bauby, August 19, Rating: 5
18. A Door in the Woods by James Dashner, July 18, Rating: 3.5
19. Enchantment by Orscon Scott Card, October 23, Rating: 4.25
20. Face Down Before Rebel Hooves by Kathy Lynn Emerson, October 29, Rating: 4
21. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, September 14, Rating: 4.5
22. The Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland, May 26, Rating: 5
23. The Glass Blowers by Daphne du Maurier, October 21, Rating: 2.75
24. Good Grief by Lolly Winston, August 22, Rating: 3.5
25. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, November 5, Rating: 5+
26. Great Feuds in History by Colin Evans, October 26, Rating: 3.75
27. History of Love by Nicole Krauss, November 10, Rating: 4.5
28. Hundred Secret Senses by Ami Tan, July 12, Rating: 4.75
29.Justice Hall by Laurie R. King, December 7, Rating: 4.25
30. I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven, November 14, Rating: 4.75
31. In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner, September 1, Rating: 1.5
32. Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier, July 1, Ratig: 4.5
33. Letter from Home by Carolyn Hart, November 12, Rating: 4.5
34. Life of Pi by Yann Martel, December 20, Rating: 5
35. A Love Like Lilly by Kay Lynn Mangum, September 9, Rating: 4
36. Martin Eden by Jack London, December 30, Rating: 3.25
37. The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester, August 28, Rating: 4.75
38. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, August 10, Rating: 5
39. The Moonstone by Wilkie Colllins, September 23, Rating: 5
40. Murder at Five Finger Point by Sue Henry, June 26, Rating: 3
41. My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart, December 30, Rating: 3.75
42. O Susannah by Karen T. Walker, May 22, Rating: 2
43. Opposite of Fate by Ami Tan, July 12, Rating: 5
44. Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver, July 21, Rating: 4.5
45. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, November 21, Rating: 4.75
46. Prayers for the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno, November 2, rating: 4.25
47. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, August 17, Rating: 4.75
48. Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain, September 7, Rating: 2.5
49. The Railway Children by E Nesbitt, August 21, Rating: 4
50. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, June 5, Rating: 3.5
51. Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, June 29, Rating: 1
52. The Screwtape Letters by C S Lewis, May 20, Rating: 5
53. The Stars Can Wait by Jay Basu, October 6, Rating: 3.5
54. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume, September 9, Rating: 2
55. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, December 12, Rating: 5
56. Until I Find You by John Irving, April, Rating: 3
57. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, April, Rating: 4.75

Sunday, January 07, 2007

My Brother Michael by Mart Stewart Dec 30, 2006

**Mary Stewart is a well-known romantic suspense author. This book is an excellent example of the genre. After reading a few pages, I stopped to check to see when the book was written (1959) because the dialog seemed dated. But for a book that was written 47 years ago, it holds up quite well.
**Camilla Haven is an English tourist visiting Athens who writes to her friend that nothing ever happens to her. Then she accepts the keys to a black car to be driven to Delphi from a stranger, and finds many things happening. Along the way, she meets Simon Lester (what a name for our romantic hero) and become entangled in an old murder mystery and quest for treasure. I like how Stewart builds her characters: you come to know that Camilla is a quiet, retiring beauty, Simon is an intellectual with hidden strength, resourcefulness and talents, etc. These traits are revealed slowly as the story unfolds. And the way she describes Greece!!!! Add it to my list of places to visit. The book was a fun and quick read. Each chapter was headed by a quote from an ancient Greek author. My favorite:"What a personage says or does reveals a certain moral purpose; and a good element of character, if the purpose so revealed is good. Such goodness is possible in every type of personage, even in a woman." Aristotle: The Art of Poetry**This is a book I inherited from my aunt Betty. It's fun to imagine what she thought as she read it. Read this book if you want to escape to an exotic locale and lose yourself in a light romance and a suspenseful tale.Rating: 3.75

booklogged said...
I actually remembered the storyline of this book, which is very unusual for me. I enjoyed it, too. I even remember the hair along the hairline bristling when I read Aristotle's quote. Too funny!
Joy said...
Framed ~ FYI...Ken Jenning's has posted his "disclaimers" regarding his book on his blog. Thought you'd be interested in that being that you read it. :)
Framed said...
Book, I can see your lips curling at that quote. I thought it was hilarious and right in line with the Greek men in the book's attitude to women. Joy, Thanks, I went and read his disclaimer here: Wow, he really had to account for a lot of distortions, didn't he? What's the world coming to? Still, it's an interesting website. He's pretty anal.
TB-) said...
Thanks for this, read this years ago and had quite forgotten about Mary Stewart...Cheers

Martin Eden by Jack London Dec 30, 2006

~~~~~I've had this book for several years. The first time I made the mistake of reading the introduction by Paul Berman, a literary critic, first. It ruined the book for me because I knew before starting that the book was going to be depressing. After reading a few pages of the actual story, I didn't want to go any farther and quit. So this go-around, I skipped the introduction and forced myself to read the whole thing. And it was a struggle at times until there came a time when I started rooting for Martin to fulfill his dreams. Martin Eden is a sailor from the lower-lower class who meets Ruth, an upper middle-class gentle woman, and falls immediately in love. In order to become worthy of his love, Martin sets out to educate himself. He finds he has a brilliant intellect and learns and grows in leaps and bounds. His work ethic enables him to accomplish so much in such a short period of time. Eventually, against her better judgment, Ruth returns his love, probably more for his physical spendor because she never ceases to feel superior to him mentally and socially. Martin soon realizes that intellectually he is far superior to most of those in Ruth's world but it doesn't lessen his love for her. His ambition is to become a famous writer and he realizes that ambition too late, only after Ruth has broken off with him. The tragedy of the story is that after working so hard, Martin no longer fits in his former world and is no longer enchanted with Ruth's world. Having finally realized fame and fortune, he is left aimless and alone.
~~~~~While I didn't really enjoy this book, (too much philosophy) I did appreciate some of its conclusions. I found Martin Eden to be an unforgettable character. I'm glad I finished it and I liked it better than I ever imagined I would. London was a gifted writer and it's probably those skills that made the book a better read than I anticipated. Still, I don't think I will ever read it again. I've included a few quote that illustrate some of Eden's thinkings and also examples of London's great writing:
~~"He could not find an adequate motive in Mr. Butler's life of pinching and privation. Had he done it for love of a woman, or for attainment of beauty, Martin would have understood. God's own mad lover (Eden) should do anything for the kiss, but not for thirty thousand dollars a year. . . . . Thirty thousand a year was all right, but dyspepsia and inability to be humanly happy robbed such princely income of all its value."
~~"The world's judges of music may be all right. But I am I, and I won't subordinate my taste to the unanimous judgment of mankind." Something we should all remember when we don't like the same book that everyone else is raving about.
~~"The erasure of summer was at hand. Yet summer lingered, fading and fainting among her hills, deepening the purple of her valleys, spinning a shroud of haze from waning powers and sated ruptures, dying with the calm content of having lived and lived well."
~~"He saw the members of his own class and the members of Ruth's class, directing their narrow little lives by narrow little formulas--herd-creatures, flocking together and patterning their lives by one another's opinions, failing of being individuals and of really living life because of the childlike formulas by which they were enslaved."
Rating: 3.25

booklogged said...
Some nice quotes. "I am I, and I won't subordinate my taste to the unanimous judgemnt of mankind" I'll remember that.

nessie said...
Sounds like my kind of book actually. I like the ones with liminal characters that can never be catagorized. Thanks!

Framed said...
Cassie reminded me that I've only had the book for a year. It just feels longer.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Life of Pi by Yann Martel December 20

---This book was recommended by my daughter, Cassie. In fact, she has reviewed several interesting books on her blog, Scads of Books, (see link at the side) that I need to read. I haven't been disappointed yet. "Life of Pi' is an excellent story with so many different components. It begins with Pi's life in India as a zookeeper's son, explains hilariously how he comes up with his abbreviated name, and tells great stories about the animals in the zoo. He is very pro-zoo. The book is also very religious; not for any one particular religion but about the existence of God. In fact in the author's notes, he claims this story will make you believe in God. After losing his family in a shipwreck, Pi must learn to survive on the open seas for 277 days with only his wits and a bengal tiger. I found the story to be so compelling. And Martel writes beautifully. I have 13 book darts marking quotes that I really liked. (I think that's a record.) Here are some of my favorites:
"If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams." Author's Notes
"If you take two steps towards God, God runs to you."
"These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart."
"Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love--but sometimes it was so hard to love. . . .Despair was a heavy blackness that let no light in or out. It was a hell beyond expression. I thank God it always passed. . . The blackness would stir and eventually go away, and God would remain, a shining point of light in my heart. I would go on loving."
" 'Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?'
'We're just being reasonable.'
'So am I. I applied my reason at every moment. Reason is excellent for getting food, clothing and shelter. Reason is the very best tool kit. Nothing beats reason for keeping tigers away. But be excessively reasonable and you risk throwing out the universe with the bathwater.' "
"To me, religion is about our dignity, not our depravity."
-- I am adding my recommendation for all to read this wonderful book. It's a fantastic story about courage, love, resourcefulness, strength and weakness.
Rating: 5
Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...
This has been on my TBR Mountain for quite awhile...seems like it should make a jump to the top of the list sometime soon!
booklogged said...
Did we read the same book? When I put it on my list of books I hated, my husband reminded me of some really terrific passages. Now you've added several more. I probably didn't catch all, or any, of the symbolism, but I don't think I'll bother rereading it to see. I'm glad you liked it.
Stacey said...
Great pick - I really loved this book. I felt something in me change, everso slightly, while reading it. Big thumbs up.
Joy said...
After reading this book, I wished I had appreciated it more while I was actually reading it because afterwards, I found it to have the greatest lasting effect on me than any other fiction book I read. Oddly enough, I only rated it a 4/5 at the time, but the impact of how it made me think for months and months earns it a 5 in my memory!I agree Framed, definitely a fantastic story!
ML said...
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It kept me facinated and not wanting to put it down.
Framed said...
Thanks for all your comments. I'm glad so many of you also liked the book. Booklogged, you are usually right on with your books, but I never forget that you liked "Poisonwood Bible." Actually, I forgot that you didn't like this one.
Les said...
I loved this book! Gave it a 9/10 rating. Yann Martel is an excellent story-teller. Since this was in my Top Ten for 2003, I'll have to post my review. Lots of great passages that I marked, too!

The Bean Tree by Barbara Kingsolver December 16

When I started this book, I had to go get my book "Pigs in Heaven" by Kingsolver to make sure I wasn't reading the book for the second time. But no, Pigs is a sequel to "The Bean Trees." I should have read them in the correct order, but, oh well. You can read my review on Pigs:
It was good to get know Taylor and Turtle better and find out the rest of the story. Alice, Taylor's mother, isn't involved as much in this book which is too bad. I really liked that character. But Taylor quotes her sayings quite often:
"Even a spotted pig looks black at night. This is another thing Mama used to tell me quite often. It means that things always look different, and usually better, in the morning."
I really like Kingsolver's descriptions. She doesn't waste words and is not the least flowery, but she still gets a sharp image across.
"I loved fishing those old mud-bottomed poonds. Partly because she (Alice) would be proud of whatever I dragged out, but also because I just loved sitting still. You could smell leaves rotting into the cool mud and watch the Jesus bugs walk on the water, their four little feet making dents in the surface but never falling through. And sometimes you'd see the big ones, the ones nobody was ever going to hook, slipping away under the water like dark-brown dreams."
There's another great descriptive paragraph in my "Page 123 Meme" just below this post.
Turtle, the little girl, is fascinated with vegetables and notices that wisteria vines have bean-looking pods left after the flowers die, hence the name, bean trees. At the end of the book, they read a horticulture book that explains how rhizobia, little bugs, live on the roots of the vine, enabling it to thrive in poor soil. "It's like this," I explained to Turtle. "There's a whole invisible system for helping out the plant that you'd never guess was there." I loved this idea. "It's just the same as with people. The way Edna has Virgie, and Virgie has Edna, and Sandi has Kid Central Station, and everybody has Mattie. And on and one." The wisteria vines on their own would just barely get by, is how I explained it to Turtle, but put them together with rhizobia and they make miracles.
Pretty great lesson on how we depend on and need each other. Kingsolver is a good storyteller and shows great humor. I liked this book but not quite as much as 'Pigs". But definitely read this one first, it just makes more sense.
Rating: 4.25
booklogged said...
I love Barbara Kingsolver. She hasn't hadn't anything new out for several years. I wish she'd get a new out there.Love the spotted pig quote - Things look different, and usually better, in the morning.What's up next?
Framed said...
I reading "Life of Pi." It's very funny which I guess I hadn't planned on. Also learning lots of interesting things about animals. I'm guessing there's more to it than this. I'm only on page 48, but, so far, I'm liking it.
Les said...
It's been years and years since I read these books of Kingsolver's. Loved them so much and really should read them again someday. Thanks for sharing the lovely passages.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

***I am fifty years old and asking myself why I've never read this book before. It is such a beautiful story, incredibly well-written, humorous, tragic, and a wonderful tale of growing up. The narrator of the story is 6-year-old Scout Finch who tells of life in a sleepy southern town, running around with her brother, Jem, and summer friend, Dill. To read of how these children grow up in the 30's and lose their innocence of human nature and, at the same time, have it reaffirmed was a moving experience. Atticus Finch is another memorable character, full of dignity and integrity. At first, you see him as an older father of young children who is seemingly absent-minded and indifferent. As the story progresses, you realize how much he truly loves his children and wishes to teach them to become principled adults. I imagine that when the book was published in 1960, at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement, it created quite a stir. I'm impressed that Lee won a Pulitzer Prize for it. I especially liked the comparison she made to Hitler's bigotted treatment of the Jews to the way the people of Maycombe treated the town's black population. The message is still just as pertinent to our way of life now.
***At the end of the book, Scout and Atticus are discussing a story he had just read to her,
"An' they chased him 'n' never could catch him 'cause they didn't know what he looked like, an' Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn't done any of those things . . . Atticus, he was real nice . . . ."
His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me.
"Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them."
***I really loved this book. I fully understand why it is considered an American classic. I've not loved every Pulitzer Prize book I've read, but this one truly deserved it. Now, I want to see the movie. No, I haven't seen it either. And Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, splendid casting!!!!
Rating: 5
Framed said...
I know I'm stretching calling this a "K" title, but it is my list.
SuziQoregon said...
I think it qualifies as a K title :-) I re-read this for the first time in years as part of my A to Z list this year. I was amazed all over again how great this book was. I hadn't read it since I was a teenager.I've heard that there's a new audiobook version out that's read by Sissy Spacek - I'd love to hear her read this.
Les said...
I read this for the first time a few years ago (in my 40s) and loved it, too! What a gem of a book. The movie's quite good, too. Enjoy!
Lisa said...
I have tried to read this book at least 1,000 times (ok maybe a SLIGHT exaggeration) but have never gotten into it. I don't know why. I have a brain block for it or something! Anyway, it's inspiring to hear two of you reading it for the first time in mid-life -- so maybe I'll still get to it. I should just put it on my TBR list, and then the pressure's on!! :)
booklogged said...
O drat it all - I just posted a comment and blogger lost it! So aggravating when that happens.Anyway, a lovely review, Framed. I haven't read this since I was teenager. Now I want to read it again. Gregory Peck plays the perfect Atticus.
Nessie said...
The movie is great. In class I played the 'victim' it was soooo amazingly fun. I actually got casted in the school play for doing that...I got the 50th anniversary edition for Christmas one year and it made the most amazing present. I was so happy to receive it even though I owned a trade edition. Its one of those books you wanna have a hardcover for because its just that good.
Framed said...
SusieQ - I love Sissy Spacek. Les - I'm glad I'm not the only one who missed out on this book in high school. I probably appreciated it more now than I would have then.Lisa - I thought it started out a little slow and the change in my interest level was so gradual that I can even pinpoint when I really got into it.Book - Are you being profane on my blog? I think much worse when my comments get swallowed up in blog world. Thanks for the compliment.Nessie - I watch movies so little but I really want to see this one. I love Gregory Peck.
Tristi Pinkston said...
A friend of mine recently told me that Harper Lee and Truman Capote were friends growing up, and that "To Kill a Mockingbird" is the story of Harper growing up and that Dill is Truman Capote. Sort of interesting!
Nessie said...
Wow! I am gonna check up on that. Will post if I find any information on it. It would unbelievable no?
Bellezza said...
To Kill A Mockingbird was required reading, and still is, at our High School. I think that may be a bit young, because it is such an outstanding book. It has too many important concepts that teenagers might miss. I agree with you, on what an awesome book it is. Oh, and by the way, Chicago made it their book of the year to read a few summers ago.
Cassie said...
Truman Capote and Harper Lee were friends and I've heard the same thing that a character is patterned after him and that he did the same thing with her in one of his books. I thought it was Boo Radley though.
Cassie said...
oh and Framed I'm glad you realized about your title. That was the first thing I thought to comment about but your right, it is your list.
Joy said...
You are not alone. I picked this up only a few years ago. It definitely was a winner with me as well! :)
ML said...
I loved this book! After I read the last sentence, I wanted to start reading it all over again.Also, you're not the only "late" reader of this book. I only just read it last year.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Justice Hall by Laurie R King

It's been so long since I've done a book review. It's just a busy time of year not a book that took forever to read. Justice Hall is part of a mystery series. My advice is to start with the first book and read them in order. I think I would have enjoyed this book even more had I done that. There are a lot of references to previous mysteries that I was clueless about. That's my disclaimer, now I can say that I really like this mystery. Mary Russell is the younger wife of Sherlock Holmes--yes, the Sherlock Holmes. I don't know how much younger, probably information contained in another book. But they have a collaborative marriage in which they work together to solve mysteries and it's a fun relationship to read about. The story takes place in the 1920's after the lst World War. Justice Hall belongs to a old friend who just inherited it. Of course, they knew this friend as someone else and had no idea that he was a member of one of England's finest families. The way King describes the actual home is fantastic. I enjoyed reading about this time period and how societal mores are changing. The actual mystery involves finding out how the previous heir to the dukedom died and if anyone caused the death to take place. (I'm trying not to give too much away.) There are some very interesting plot twists that just make the book that much more interesting. I would like to read more of King's Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. This one was a well-written, well-thought-out mystery.
Rating: 4.25
Nessie said...
Crazy! Like I have said never really got into mysteries but Sherlock was always a favorite for sure. I hate when you end up reading the series out of order. Once I was looking at a chunkster in the bookstore and bought it. It was Diana Gaboldon's VOYAGER which was the third book of her series. I went back and read the first two but it was not the same to be sure! :(
booklogged said...
I was fortunate enough to start with the first in this series. I have really enjoyed them all. King is quite a deliberate writer, there are parts that seem a bit slow, but it all helps the feel of the mystery and the time period. And by the end of the book you are completely satisfied. I know the first one in the series is The Beekeeper's Apprentice, I loose track after that.So you're ready to start on 'K'. I'll have to go back and see what your K reads are. You are nearly half way through the alphabet. Good for you!
booklogged said...
Your next two look like ones you're going to enjoy: To Kill a Mockigbird and The Beantree.
Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...
I hadn't heard of this author before. Sounds like it was a good read.
Dark Orpheus said...
I love Laurie R. King. I appreciate how she always try to find something new to inject into her stories. Glad you like this book.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Brainiac by Ken Jennings

^^^Last month, I had the opportunity to hear Ken Jennings speak at the Great Salt Lake Book Festival. I wrote a blog about it here: He was well-spoken, funny and very enlightening. Needless to say, I bought the book.
^^^The book is very different from most books I read. It's not really a story, certainly not fiction, more of a fact book. But Ken Jennings wrote this in such a charming, fascinating way. What a fun read. Yes, the story of his 75 appearances on Jeopardy is the main theme, but that story is surrounded but the whys and wherefores of the trivia world. Each chapter is titled with a question: "What is Ambition?", "What is Erudition?", "What is Juxtaposition?", for example. The narration of each chapter includes about ten trivia facts which you can try to answer or just turn to the end of the chapter like I did. Jennings traces the beginning of the trivia craze and how it has phased in and out of our society. He follows the old TV quiz shows, college quiz bowls, pub quiz mania, Trivial Pursuit, and the many volumes written about trivia. There are so many funny stories included in this book, and Jennings did make me laugh many times. I am not a trivia fanatic in the least, but I will read this book again in a few years and see if I can remember any of those questions. Probably not. Here are some of Jennings' thoughts about trivia and trivia geeks:
~~~"If trivia is a fad, it's certainly a pesky one. Like the Terminator, Halley's comet and genital herpes, trivia just keeps coming back."
~~~"If a quiz bowl player volunteers to tell you the story of his "best buzz" ever, it's not going to involve a few bottles of Smirnoff Ice and a band that was, like, really jammin'. It's going to be about the time his team was down thirty points on the last question, and he "buzzed in" and answered "mitochondria" after just two or three words, and single-handedly converted the entire bonus question to win the game!"
~~~"Trivia, in other words, is the bait on the fishing rod of education. By the time you realize what you've swallowed, you're hooked."
~~~"Trivia reminds us that truth is stranger than fiction, that the universe really is a brilliant and mysterious place. In the midst of our humdrum daily routine, trivia can be a bolt out of the blue, reminding us how weirdly wonderful life really is. "
~~~"Not all trvial facts are trivial, and even the trivial ones might come in handy someday. Even trivia like 'Opossums have thirteen nipples' might mean something to somebody. If nothing else, it's a matter of life and death to the thirteenth opossum."
^^^I enjoyed Brainiac a lot and learned many interesting facts that may or may not be useful. Unlike Ken Jennings, unfortunately, I am doomed to forget most of it. But I'll have this book as a reference. I recommend this book for when you need to read something completely different from the fiction/nonfiction story genre.
Rating: 4.5
Les said...
Great review! This is a book my Trivial Pursuit champion of a husband would love. One more gift to go under the tree. :)
Cassie said...
I really want to borrow this from you someday along with many others. Sheesh my TBR list is growing and I don't even have a list yet.
Nessie said...
As a kid I used to love to watch Jeopardy & my dad's friends would say that if I could answera a question that he could not get I would get 5$ & if I answered a question he got WRONG then I got 20$. How could I not have fond memories??...
Colleen Gleason said...
This sounds like a great book, something my husband and/or father in law might enjoy for Christmas.Thanks for the review!(PS I used to read the Death on Demand series years ago...and wished there was a store like Death on Demand that I could visit!!)
Nessie said...
By the way, I work with a group that has the same title as your post. So a member at a meeting while surfing went gaga over this.
booklogged said...
I wonder when I'm going to get to my copy of this book?! I so enjoyed hearing him talk. He looks so quiet and well, 'brainiac' but he was so funny. The book sounds wonderful. It's nice to know there is someone in the world who, when she buys a book, actually reads it. Hats off!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

---There is so much to say about this book. Let me start with the things I didn't like, a couple of these are really petty. First, I borrowed this book from the library. It's a hard back book but the front cover is damaged and very flimsy. You'd be amazed at how annoying that was. (I did say petty, didn't I?) Second, this is the cover of the edition that I read. A picture of John Irving. Keep in mind, this is the third John Irivng book I have read and while he is a very nice-looking man, I know that he has a twisted mind. And his eyes in the picture follow you everywhere. It creeped me out. He's staring at me as I write this. Don't ask me why I didn't just turn the book over. I'm not that smart. Third, there is a lot of political posturing in the book. A great deal of it deals with the Vietnam War which is a huge piece of the story and probably something I need to learn more about. But the greatest diatribe is against the Reagan administration in the late 1980's. The book was published in 1989. It didn't seem very relevant to me now. Besides I'm not very political so that part left me cold.
---So, what did I like about the book. WELL, I could go on and on. It really is a great book. Irving is a master at creating odd and quirky characters, but Owen Meany is arguably the most compelling and memorable character I have ever read about. And the story touches on so many different subjects: faith, death, friendship, love. Throughout the book, Irving tells about so many different occurrences, places and things; and, then at the end, he ties it all together beautifully and so unexpectedly. The end just blew me away. I plan on reading the book again someday because I'm sure I will look for clues that I completely missed this time. But maybe the surprise is better. There were so many great quotes. Here are a few of my favorites:
---"It's a no-win argument--that business of what we're born with and what our environment does to us. And it's a boring argument, because it simplifies the mysteries that attend both our birth and our growth."
---"You've witnessed what you call a miracle and now you believe--you believe everything. But miracles don't cause belief--real miracles don't make faith out of thin air; you have to already have faith in order to believe in real miracles."
---"Although the sun had set, vivid streaks of vermilion-colored light traced the enormous sky, and through one of these streaks of light, I saw Owen's plane descending--as if, wherever Owen Meany went, some kind of light always attended him."
---The book begins with an interesting introduction written by the author. I love reading what authors have to say about their work. It gives me a greater insight into what I'm reading. This introduction also gave me an idea for "Buy a Friend a Book Week" in January. So visit me again then to learn more.
---I'm also adding that the humor in the story is wonderful. The Christmas Pageant was hilarious and the Volkswagon incident had me rolling on the floor.
Rating: 4.75
Alyson said...
Yeah! I'm glad you liked it. I didn't really enjoy the amount of politics in this book either, but the rest of the story is so wonderful that I look past that. I think this is one of my favorites because Owen is such an endearing character, and because the ending suprised me as well. I've already read this one twice, and I already want to read it again.
booklogged said...
I don't know what I was thinking when I didn't pick this for From the Stacks Challenge. Maybe I can read it for the Chunkster Challenge. It is a chunkster, isn't it?You are moving right along on the alphabetical read. Probably about 1/3 through and you didn't start so long ago.Love reading your reviews.
Les said...
I've read this twice. Once in 2000 and again in 2005. It was on my Top Ten List for 2005 and I posted a review here. There are so many wonderful quotes! I posted one in my review, but I have dozens highlighted in my book.
Framed said...
Alyson, I'm so glad you recommended this book. It's the only reason I read it and I really did love it. I may have to buy my own copy so I can mark it up. Book, you do need to read it. It would qualify as a chunkster. Les, I loved your review. I alos enjoyed the comments.
Lotus Reads said...
Goodness, yes, that is an unusual cover isn't it? It's not often you come across a book with the author's face, even if its a good-looking one, splashed across the cover like that! :)Great review, Framed - I have always wanted to read this book, but after reading what you have to say I am even more inclined to do so.
Bookfool said...
This one's still on my get-to-it-soon list. Actually, it has been for a long time. It's great to read yet another positive review! I just gave my last read a 4.75 and I thought I was being odd when I did so. It's also kind of nice to see someone else give an in-between rating. I don't know what to think of the author's face. It's a nice one, but surely they could have come up with something better.
Nessie said...
when i read this in high school I was flying. the entire class read it and we kept on bringing it up during parties and get togethers. Its one of those books that creeps up on you throughout your life (this is 5 years later anyways...) which makes it a classic for me
Joy said...
I thought I already responded to this one, but evidently I didn't.I want to read it, but need to wait. Now to find out that it's a chunkster...ugh! It may have to wait a little while longer. :(My first chunkster is going to be THE LONESOME DOVE (McMurty), maybe this will be the second. We'll see.
Sara said...
I've owned this one for a while and haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I'm going to bring it to the top of the stack now after reading your review. Luckily I won't have all of your problems with the creepy author photo since mine just has a plain blue cover. Huzzah!
Bellezza said...
I have a hard time appreciating John Irving; I just don't get him!But, my son and I loved the movie "Simon Birch" which was based on this novel. And, of all John Irving's novels, this one is the one I like best. I read A Widow for A Year, and was singularly nonplussed. I think he's just too deep for me. Or, something.Thanks for commenting on my blog, I really enjoy your visits.
Framed said...
Belleza, I definitely like this book better than anything else of his that I've read. I don't plan on reading another unless I get rave recommendations like I did with Owen Meany.
michelle said...
Owen Meany is one of my all-tme favorite books. I try and space out re-readings to keep it fresh but always find myself coming back to it.Owen is just the most unique character I have ever read and every time I revisit this book I find something new to love that I had missed before.Glad you enjoyed it!MichelleOverdue Books