February 28, 2013

why i wanted to read it: a girl i met at the bookstore yesterday recommended it.

what i liked: she laughed when there was no joke. she danced when there was no music (p. 15).

suddenly, intensely, i wanted to know everything about her. i wanted to see her baby pictures. i wanted to watch her eating breakfast, wrapping a gift, sleeping. since september, she had been a performer--unique and outrageous--on the high school stage. she was the opposite of cool; she held nothing back. from her decorated desk to her oratorical speech to her performance on the football field, she was there for all to see. and yet now i felt i had not been paying attention. i felt i had missed something, something important (p. 78).

she was bendable light: she shone around every corner of my day.

she taught me to revel. she taught me to wonder (p. 107).

i walked in a gray world of nothings. 

so she would stop and point out that the front door of the house we were passing was blue. and that the last time we had passed it, it had been green...

after a while i began to see better. when she said, "look!" and i followed her pointing finger, i saw. eventually it became a contest: who would see first? when i finally did it--said "look!" and pointed and tugged her sleeve--i was as proud as a first grader with a star on his paper (p. 108).

"i hate change," she said. "it's so jangly."

"do you realize how much you must throw away in a year," i said.

"did you ever see a little kid's face when he spots a penny on a sidewalk?" she said (p. 118).

and just like that, stargirl was gone... she turned around slowly for my open-mouthed, dumbstruck inspection. nothing goofy, nothing different i could see. she looked magnificently, wonderfully, gloriously ordinary (pp. 139-140).

"gave up herself for a while there, she loved you that much. what an incredibly lucky kid you were."

i could not look at him. "i know."

he shook his head with a wistful sadness. "no, you don't. you can't know yet. maybe someday..."

i knew he was tempted to say more. probably to tell me how stupid i was, how cowardly, that i blew the best chance i would ever have. but his smile returned, and his eyes were tender again, and nothing harsher than cherry smoke came out of his mouth (178).

what sucked: at times it borders on ridiculous. but then that could be because i don't often embrace oddity.

having said all that: it's a very quick read, and parts of the story are really quite good. i'd folded down the corners of quite a few pages so that i could share with you the quotes that resonated for whatever reason. and i think perhaps it's the kind of story, on the whole, that will resonate for some time.


February 26, 2013

why i wanted to read it: sandra bullock quoted it in the film the lake house: there could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison...

i'd liked pride and prejudice well enough (though i'd forgotten how painstaking reading it had been), and so i'd asked my father to buy me a copy.

it sat, for years, on my desktop. once in a long while, i'd take it down and try to read it, but i never got past the first chapter.

what i liked: the years which had destroyed her youth and bloom had only given him a more glowing, manly, open look, in respect lessening his personal advantages (p. 58).

his kindness in stepping forward to her relief--the manner--the silence in which it passed--the little particulars of the circumstance--with the conviction soon forced on her by the noise he was studiously making with the child, that he meant to avoid hearing her thanks, and rather sought to testify that her conversation was the last of his wants, produced such a confusion of varying, but painful agitation as she could not recover from... (p. 77).

she understood him. he could not forgive her.--but he could not be unfeeling (p. 87).

after talking however of the weather and bath and the concert, their conversation began to flag, and so little was said at last, that she was expecting him to go at every moment; but he did not; he seemed in no hurry to leave her... (p 171).

"a man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman!--he ought not. he does not" (p. 173).

the careless expression was life to anne, who saw that captain wentworth was all attention, looking and listening with his whole soul; and that the last words brought his enquiring eyes from charles to herself (p. 211).

i am half agony, half hope... unjust i may have been, weak and resentful i have been, but never inconstant... you sink your voice, but i can distinguish the tones of that voice, when they would be lost on others... (pp. 223-224).

what sucked: pretty much the whole of the book, excepting the quotes mentioned above and the majority of the text from page 217 on.

i fell asleep SO many times reading this book. oh, if only the whole of the thing could've held my attention half as well as the last twenty pages did.

the first sentence of pride and prejudice: it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife

twenty-three words.

the first sentence of persuasion: sir walter elliot, of kellynch-hall, in somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the baronetage, there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were aroused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs, changed naturally into pity and contempt, as he turned over the almost endless creations of the last century, and there, if every other leaf were powerless he could read his own history with an interest which never failed--this was the page at which the favorite volume always opened: (p. 3).

note the punctuation at the conclusion of that quote. a colon. A COLON. as in there are more words to follow. because the last quote has MORE than a HUNDRED words in it, BEFORE the colon. try diagramming that. you can't! it's not concluded yet!

nine times out of ten, this is what EVERY SINGLE sentence is like.

i like periods. i love them. they're like little gems. prizes for having read a whole sentence! and boy, would i've liked to've been rewarded for reading strings of sentences that were sometimes so long they took up a bottom third of a page and a top third of another.

i also love dialogue. and there is so very little of each of these things in this novel. so many times, i would've appreciated the white space that comes with quoting what was said rather than relaying it in prose. some pages are huge blocks of text. in fact, there are some pages that are comprised of two paragraphs. two VERY LONG, tedious paragraphs.

having said all that: meh.

(i watched the bbc production this morning, and have greater respect for the plot, and a better understanding of the power of the tale. i think the film succeeds in telling the brunt of the story, but lacks severely in the ending. here, the novel is infinitely better.)

the language of flowers

February 23, 2013

why i wanted to read it: a friend recommended it.

what i liked: but if meredith had placed me in the group home to scare me into behaving, it hadn't worked. despite the staff, i liked it there. meals were served at regular hours, i slept under two blankets, and no one pretended to love me (p. 10).

i knew who listened to their mother (genna), who was loved by their teacher (chloe), and who would rather be buried alive in the sandbox than sit through another day of class (greta, little greta: if my asters had been in bloom, i would have left her a bucketful in the sandbox, so desolate was the voice that begged her mother to let her stay (p. 21).

arranging the flowers and wrapping them in brown paper as i had seen renata do, i'd felt a buoyancy similar to what i'd felt slipping the dahlias under the bedroom doors of my housemates the morning i'd turned eighteen. it was a strange feeling--the excitement of a secret combined with the satisfaction of being useful (p. 44)

"no, warmth of feeling," elizabeth said. "you know, the tingling feeling you get when you see a person you like."

i didn't know that feeling. "warmth of vomit" (p. 63).

i wasn't looking for the mysterious vendor; at least, i told myself i wasn't. when i did see him, i slipped down an alley and ran until i was out of breath (pp. 69-70).

"it's thorny and pod-bearing. just the sway of the tree makes you think of shifty-eyed men in convenience stores, untrustworthy."

"and how is untrustworthy related to secret love?" he asked.

"how is it not?" (p. 86).

there had been a dried-flower business, he explained, but he'd shut it down when his mother became ill. he didn't much care for the corpses of what had once been alive (p. 103).

"i'm more of a thistle-peony-basil kind of girl," i said.

"misanthropy-anger-hate," said grant. "hmm."

"you asked" (p. 104).

i was sleep-deprived and useless for an entire week. my fur floor didn't dry for days, and every time i went to lie down, the moisture soaked through my shirt like grant's hands, a constant reminder of his touch" (p. 110).

i picked up a payday and ate out the peanuts until it was nothing but a gooey caramel strip. 

"best part," grant said, nodding to the caramel. i handed it to him, and he ate it quickly, as if i would change my mind and take it back.  "you must like me more than you let on," he said, grinning (p. 129).

if i had known how, i would have joined grant in prayer. i would have prayed for him, for his goodness, his loyalty, and his improbable love. i would have prayed for him to give up, to let go, and to start over. i might have even prayed for forgiveness.

but i didn't know how to pray (p. 195).

what sucked: the excitement i'd had in the first half fell off in the second, but it should have, as this was the part of the story where the main character screws up royally and you just want to bash her head in and throttle her. still, the author can't quite recover that energy in the conclusion, and maybe it's right that it's this way, but i wanted that thrill back. i wanted the rush of a great story that i'd felt the author had promised me so wonderfully at the first.

having said all that: it's the first book i've read this year that i gushed about to others before i was even halfway through it. the first one i've felt impatient while reading (a majority of) it, eager to see what happens next. i love these characters, even when they're being pigheaded, stupid louts--specifically, victoria. i love how she and grant find each other. i wish i could've loved the story with the same intensity cover to cover, but it's still the best book i've read in a long time. plus, i stayed up till nearly four a.m. to finish the damned thing. and i don't do that too often anymore. they should make a movie of this, and carey mulligan should play victoria, and taylor kitsch should play grant. for much of the time i'd read it, i wished i could tell a story so well. i'd be happy to lend it to you. it's beautiful.

redeeming love

February 22, 2013

why i wanted to read it: because a friend recommended it.

what i liked: "when he smiled at me, i felt it all the way down to my toes."

lucky passed on the stew in favor of the bottle of red wine. "if a pock-marked midget from nantucket smiled at you, you would feel it all the way down to your toes" (p. 72).

"i want to fill your life with color and warmth. i want to fill it with light" (p. 140).

"are you crying? for me?" she said weakly.

"don't you think you're worth it?"

something inside her cracked. she writhed inside to escape the feeling, but it was there nonetheless, growing with the light touch of his hand on her shoulder, with every soft word he spoke. she was sure if she put her hands against her heart, her palms would come away covered with her own blood. was that what this man wanted? for her to bleed for him? (p. 152).


"because for some of us, one mile can be farther to walk than thirty" (p. 164).

"i know what i am. i never pretended to be anything else. not once. not ever!" she put her hand on the edge of the wagon seat. "and here you are, borrowing michael's wagon and his horses and his gold and using his wife." she laughed at him. "and what do you call yourself? his brother" (p. 186).

she destroyed his dreams, and he made her windchimes (p. 284).

you are all fair, my love;
there is no flaw in you.
song of solomon 4:7 (p. 305).

"i'm not your father! i'm not duke! i'm not some gent paying for half an hour in your bed!" his hands tightened on her arms. "i'm your husband! i don't take what you feel lightly" (p. 307).

"show me this father of yours, michael," she said, unable to keep the edge out of her voice.

"i am," michael said quietly.

"where? i don't see him. maybe if he stood before me, i'd believe he existed." and she could spit in his face for everything that had happened to her and her mother.

"he's in me. i'm showing him to you every hour of every day, the only way i know how" (pp. 315-316).

what sucked: the length. good heavens, ms. rivers is verbose, especially in the last hundred pages or so.

having said all that: i liked it. there's good stuff here.

julie and romeo

February 20, 2013

why i wanted to read it: i have a faint recollection, i think when i'd been a bookseller at borders, of seeing this book on one of the displays--a bestsellers bay or a trade paperback table or something--on one of the front of store fixtures. i remember thinking the cover was pretty. i also remember rolling my eyes at the obvious reference to shakespeare. a modern day take. how original. last year, while i'd briefly provided what ended up being free and unnecessary services to a local bookstore here, i'd come across it in the stacks of books i'd been cataloging. i read a few pages thinking it sounded cute, despite the lack of originality. and i like love stories where the characters spend most of their adult lives trying to find each other. a week or so ago, i googled best love stories and was directed to good reads' list of fifteen hundred titles. one of them was this one.

what i liked: she waved her hand at me, a gesture she had picked up from her father. "they're idiots. not idiots, really. they're good guys one at a time, but when you put them together they're like, i don't know. a bunch of moose or something" (p. 191).

"that's good. i don't mean good that he's hurt, but this way all the boys will be able to say dad won" (p. 192).

a couple of the characters--romeo cacciamani and his daughter, patience, a.k.a. plummy. that the story was a fast read. it's cute. everytime the grandma got a piece of the story, i pictured anne bancroft playing her role. she would've nailed it.

what sucked: the story didn't impress me at all. i gave it to page eighty and was gonna bail, but then, i realized there's only two hundred pages or so to the thing. i might as well finish it. and in my mind, from now on, i will picture anne bancroft as a batshit-crazy grandma. sad.

i really need to start looking at the backs of books. i was going to read marian keyes' lucy sullivan is getting married (found it at barnes & noble's while at work one day. liked the cover. meant to give it a look, but never got around to it. saw it on a good reads list. apparently, it's popular in britain or something. so much so they'd made a television series about it. story seemed cute and quick, even though the book had twice as many pages as this one. the printing? bold and heavy. pretty font. easy to read and nice to look at. oh, but the story... it's awfully written. AWFUL). so yeah, on the back of the keyes' book, for the brief author bio, she says that she lives with her husband and their IMAGINARY DOG. O-KAY. christian science monitor hails julie and romeo as "a captivating modern romance." modern and romance, sure. captivating? for me? not so much. and a christian magazine's recommending it? next time i'll know to pass.

having said all that: keep in mind, i'm a pretty critical chick. my standards for good fiction, like everything else, are pretty high. this one's a decent beach read, on par with some of nora roberts' crappier tales, without the sex, of course.

the silver linings playbook

February 18, 2013

why i wanted to read it: the movie, i felt, doesn't deserve near as much hype as it's gotten. i liked it well enough, but i can't say it's one i'd want to own. i hadn't realized it'd been adapted for the screen from a novel,  though i probably should have, until i saw it on the counter of a bookstore's cafe. one of the baristas had recommended it. i'd told her i hadn't been too crazy about the movie. she insisted the book was a lot better.

what i liked: i don't have quotes for you on this one, either. none of the writing really tugged on me so much that i want to remember it. it's not a powerfully-written story from a linguistic view, i guess. the language isn't spectacular, here. the story's not. but the characters make it interesting, and the author does a great job of making those characters real to the reader because of how it's written. the main character, for example, is a man who has no filter, doesn't want one, would prefer others not have them.  he's also pretty impulsive and aggressive. he narrates the story. and the way he tells it is often amusing.

what sucked: the back third of it, save for the last three pages. those last three are really quite good.

having said all that: i liked the main character more, having read the book. but i think the film does a better job of telling that story than the novel does.

i see you everywhere

February 16, 2013

why i wanted to read it: i liked the title. i liked the cover art. i liked that it was about two siblings, two sisters--louisa and clement (what a cool name for a gal!). i liked that it spanned more than two decades. i liked that it was free--an advanced reader's copy i'd snagged of the barnes & noble booksellers' breakroom table while at work one day.

what i liked: i can't give you quotes on this one because my copy isn't a final copy, isn't the technical, printed word, the one that everyone gets to read, and i'm instructed on the back of the book that quoting it isn't allowed. so... i liked that it's told in story arcs, really, rather than chapters. long arcs, and sometimes the point of view hops back and forth along that trajectory from one sister to the other--first lou's version, then clem's. or it's told from entirely one perspective. i liked that here and there, there's poetry. for the most part, i liked the characters. i liked that it made me miss my mother's side of the family, made me long to know my great aunts and uncles a little better. that it moved me.

what sucked: that it dragged in places. that it made me miss my family. that it made me cry. repeatedly. i hadn't expected that. hadn't wanted it. and i'm a little annoyed, still, that it did so.

having said all that: it's incredibly rare that a book makes me cry. and for this reason, i must recognize it as a good one. worth reading, even though it affected me in such a way.

the perks of being a wallflower

February 13, 2013

why i wanted to read it: because i used to work at a bookstore, and this was one of those titles that i saw pass through the checkout line frequently. because it's small. i figured it'd be a quick read. and i really like tiny books that pack a punch. it didn't have that fanfare around like twilight and harry potter or, now, fifty shades. so it's kind of quiet book, but there must be something about it that resonates. it'd been sitting on my desktop, in the queue, for some time, however. and then i saw the movie, which i liked quite a bit, and meant to get around to reading it... but there's a lot on my get-around-to-this list.

what i liked: that's when i started thinking about my sister... how she was actually very pretty. and how different her face looked when she realized boys thought she was pretty. and how different her face looked the first time she really liked a boy who was not on a poster on her wall. and how her face looked when she realized she was in love with that boy. and then i wondered how her face would look when she came out from behind those doors.

when i thought that, i started to cry... and i couldn't let that happen because my sister was counting on me, and this was the first time anyone ever counted on me for anything" (p. 118).

i know that i brought all this on myself. i know that i deserve this. i'd do anything not to be this way. i'd do anything to make it up to everyone. and to not have to see a psychiatrist, who explains to me about being "passive agressive." and to not have to take the medicine he gives me, which is too expensive for my dad. and to not have to talk about bad memories with him. or be nostalgic about bad things (p. 139).

i look at the teachers and wonder why they're here. if they like their jobs. or us. and i wonder how smart they were when they were fifteen. not in a mean way. in a curious way. it's like looking at all the students and wondering who's had their heart broken that day, and how they are able to cope with having three quizzes and a book report on top of that. or wondering who did the heartbreaking. and wondering why (p. 142).

what sucked: nothing.

having said all that: i still say one day is the best book i've read this year so far. but i did like this one quite a bit.