Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book 104: Secret Diary of a Call Girl

Secret Diary of a Call Girl by Belle du Jour or Anonymous (like in my edition) is a great little read. It’s something that is incredibly naughty yet so fascinating. It’s a witty look at what it’s like to be a call girl in London.

I’ve been waiting to read this book for a while basically since the TV show first debuted.  If you haven’t realized it, most of Showtime and HBO’s programming comes from books and this book was the starting of the show.  Secret Diary of a Call Girl (the TV show) caught my attention due to the title (titillating) and the casting. Billie Piper was my favorite assistant from Doctor Who and I wanted to see if she could really act and Belle was as far as you could get from Rose Tyler.  But after watching a couple of episodes I knew I had to read the book that inspired it all.

Waiting did not disappoint. In fact it probably made it better. If I would have read it back then, I may not even know what I would have gotten myself into. The book was rather detailed. I’m shy and know next to nothing about sex so this book was insightful. Filled in the gaps even cable TV couldn’t fill in.

I loved the structure the book. It started off each chapter with a list of things (alphabetically) about London sex work. Then each day could be any sort of thing which could be an anecdote, a day in the life,  a list of things like Love: A Spotter’s Guide and even just the ins and outs of being a call girl.   One of the things I really never expected was how much of the show would lift things straight from the book and in about the same order.

It was such a delightful book although there were several points where I went ‘you can do that?’ or ‘oh that sounds like fun’ and ‘maybe this wasn’t the best book to bring as my lunch reading material’.  But I’m glad that I read it. I immediately wishlisted the other books by Belle du Jour and debating which books will be making it to my library eventually. Nothing can speak higher volumes then enjoying the book so much that you want more books by the same author.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Letters 99, 100 and above

When Christmas is combinde with awesome friends and family, it means I get to write one of the best things to reach the letter goal of the year (thank you cards). I actually love sending these out but I've been taught from an early age that it's good etiquette to always write a thank you card for any little gift.  First, they let your gift giver know that you are grateful for something and two, it lets the person know you actually got the little gift. 

Right now I've done four cards of each pattern and still have a few more to write.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Book 103: Blood Bound

  Blood Bound by: Patricia Briggs was enjoyable despite the slow start but it turned into a real page turner by the end of the book. It was a fun read that was did exactly what I wanted: be an easy read that indulged the werewolf lover in me.

          Blood Bound is the second book in the Mercy/Mercedes Thompson series.  To sum up the series it’s about Mercy who is a walker (can transform into a coyote at will) raised by werewolves and the difficulties that she runs into. It’s fun since she’s kinda a pack member after Adam (the alpha werewolf/next door neighbor) but also a complete outsider. It’s a nice blend of being in the know but not knowing too much.

          This book had a lot of set up in it but it needed that set up. Can’t just throw in a sorcerer (a person of magical proclivities who makes a bond with a demon-which is a new take for me on that term) vampire into the genre without any explanation of why on earth that was bad for the whole Tri-cities area. Not just the vampires or the werewolves of the town.

          Then once the book got going, it was so good. Very action packed. Loved it. Plus I love how there was a bit of a false ending to the book. Then the actual ending creates that yearning to see what happens next in the series.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Letters that don't count

 My Christmas Cards (at least a couple of the designs, forgot to take a photo of the other two designs).
The main card

The other cards:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Book 102: Serpent's Storm

                Serpent’s Storm by Amber Benson was a huge disappointment.  I wanted a great light story with strong characters, action and a good dose of fun. Unfortunately the book was a wee bit schizophrenic.
                I will have to say it’s interesting that Amber Benson is known for her role of Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There have been more and more crossovers of actresses/actors that I like working with the fiction genres that I like. I’ve been tempted to read some of them more but I have always kind of wondered if it’s worth my time.
                Quite frankly I hated the book.  This book was basically schizophrenic. Callie Reaper-Jones went from tough chick to lover to unsure girl in a matter of a page. She was just all over the map. So it made it hard to read since it was just always jolting back and forth.
                Then there is a problem on parts of the concept. I struggle to accept when writers decide to merge gods and immorality with heaven and the God. There has to be a good explanation as to why God made the universe but there is a Hindu gods around and why there is Death Inc. Now this book was the third book in a series so maybe it was better explained earlier, but in this book it wasn’t.  Plus I also had issue that Kali spoke more like a ghetto black girl then an Indian goddess. So that kept taking me out of the book whenever Callie was called “White Girl”

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Book 101: The Romanovs The Final Chapter

The Romanovs: the Final Chapter by Robert K Massie was not what I was expecting but thoroughly enjoyed. I relished reading about all the forensics that has gone into testing the Romanovs’ bones and the attempts to identify who is who in the mass grave site. Plus the book talks about the imposters and family members that survived the Communist take-over.

Robert K. Massie is an excellent writer. He has Pulitzer Prize and has several well known books. I will have to say he merges an investigative style, forensic science and easy to read style.

When I read the book title, I really thought it would be more about the deaths and capture of the Romanov family. But I was mistaken but not in a bad way. It really discussed the death and what happened from there. Which has an interesting history all to itself.

I learned a lot in this book. One of the things I found to be the most interesting was the idea of the missing Romanov daughter. I never knew that the Russians believe that it was Marie who wasn’t buried with the family while most of Europe and America believe it was Anastasia.   I also learned about the how the imposters and how there was such a struggle to test/rate the credibility of each person. Plus while it was harder to believe, it was neat to read about the person who claimed to be the tsarevich (who was also not found in the mass grave).

The biggest downside to this book was the fact part of it is out of date.  The book was written in 1995 before the second Romanov burial plot was found (in 2007).  By finding the second set of remains that included Alexei and the missing daughter. Now there will always be some debate about if the missing daughter was Anastasia or Marie, but it does prove that the entire family did die at the hands of the Soviet Revolution.

I really liked the book. It was interesting and that blend of forensics and biography.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book 100: A Darcy Christmas

A Darcy Christmas was supposed to be the fun book in my collection of books. I was looking forward to having a romantic book involving my second favorite holiday. Unfortunately for me, the stories from Amanda Grange, Sharon Lathan, and Carolyn Eberhart left me wondering if I am even a Darcy fan at all and what the fuss is about.

I will admit my holiday spirit is a bit lacking this year.  And this book didn’t help things, especially the story “Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Carol.” We all know a Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Heck we have all seen how the majority of the TV shows will use the Christmas Carol as the framework.  So starting off A Darcy Christmas with the most stereotypical form of a Christmas Carol was the akin of starting off a concert on off key and out of sync.  Please for the love of god, use a little bit of creativity and show some diversity in the tale. I literally ended up the story going “yuck”.

Then I read “Christmas Present,” I hoped for better but didn’t really think it would happen. It was still a typical read just like the story before. A birth of a baby and tying the love together even stronger then ever.  It added nothing to the lexicon or used any imagination.

Then the last bit of the book was probably the best book. “A Darcy Christmas” actually used some imagination. It was still pretty typical read and in most bits of the story, you knew how it was going to end.  Each chapter showed a different Christmas.

My biggest problem with A Darcy Christmas was the absolute lack of creativity in the whole book. I read fiction in order to get away from the world and to see something new. I don’t like it when I read a book and I know how it will go moments into a story.  In a way the book highlights my reason I’m struggling to get into the Christmas spirit: it’s too much of the same old thing and lack of effort.

Then the next problem in this book was the lack of continuity. There were several elements of where the stories completely overlap: characters, ideas and etc. But they don’t agree on stuff.  Lizzy and Darcy have children but they never named the same. Nor are the character traits carrying over fully. Those of the little things that could  have unified the book.  Plus in many ways, I never even was able to connect to the prior age: since little details made me rethink if they were around when Jane Austen was writing.

In the end, A Darcy Christmas was a disappointing read and poor tribute to Jane Austin and to one of her most beloved characters.  I wanted some imagination. I wanted to see something new in a Christmas story to feel the tug of a magical tale with a familiar character. But I didn’t get that. So when Miriam returns Wolfsbane and Mistletoe I might reread that to get into the holiday mood.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book 99: Sarah's Key

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay was a nice diversion book that really picked up steam the more you read it. It is an interesting blend of history and the present. It shows how difficult it can be for the French to come to grips with their past from the Holocaust.

This book was an interesting book since it highlights the Vel’ d’Hiv’ Roundup that occurred on July 16, 1942 which ultimately sent thousands of French Jews to their deaths which were mainly women and children. The difficult aspect for the French is that this event wasn’t done by the Nazis, instead it was done by the French police on French transportation systems in the middle of Paris. It’s been hushed up and forgotten since in many cases the truth is just so painful to bar. To be honest before this book, I knew next to nothing about this roundup and how it singled out French children.

What I love about Sarah’s Key is that it had a great dialogue about digging up the painful events of the past and actually acknowledging them. There are times when it brings together a family and other times it will actually divide the family. Not everyone sees the value of digging up the past.

The book has two main characters and thus two points of view set in two different points of time. First there is Sarah who was a young Jewish girl who was part of the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup who wants to stop at nothing to save her brother who was locked up in their secret cupboard. Then there is Julia Jarmond from today’s time. She is assigned to write an article about the roundup for the 60th university of the event. While she is learning about the event, she’s dealing with family issues and her own curiosity makes her dig into her own in-laws’ past. There were times I loved the shifts in perspective. Both were done crisply and well. But often the chapters were so short that I didn’t want the perspective to change. Then about mid-book, it’ becomes Julia’s story. Everything from the past is starting to come to light and wasn’t much place for continuing Sarah’s story.   

I like how the book took the time to say: “This is not a historical work and has no intention of being one. It is my tribute to the children of the Vel d’Hiv’. The children who never came back. And the ones who survived to tell.”This allows some of the liberties that seem a wee bit unbelievable in the lexicon of Holocaust events to make sense. It allows the reader to enjoy the fact that there are a lot of facts and research in the book but it doesn’t have to be taken so seriously that the suspension of disbelief isn’t destroyed.

So far I approve the books on the target Reading Club (Moloka’I was also on the list). Plus I like how the one aisle cap was right if I liked one, I would like the other book. If it wasn’t for the fact that this book was on sale and there was the option if I get two books from the Book Club, I could get a $5.00 gift card, I wouldn’t’ have been able to read such a good book.