Friday, January 4, 2013

ceremonies of possession in europe's conquest of the new world, 1492 - 1640 by patricia seed

i read this for my colonial america class. it's an academic work, but surprisingly readable. very informative; very interesting; not too long. it examines the way in which the english, dutch, portuguese, spanish, and french demonstrated their ownership in the americas and the historical precedents for those actions. 

nothing to envy: ordinary lives in north korea by barbara demick

this was a book club selection and i'll start by admitting that i did NOT want to read this book. i was so disappointed when everyone voted for it. i'm generally uninterested in asian history and culture. with that said, this was one of my favorite books i read this year. i couldn't put it down. 

we get a glimpse into north korea via the stories of five or so north koreans who manage to get out of the country. 

i had no idea how bananas that place is. it's like reading an orwell novel, only it's not fake. it's terrifying to think that places like this can exist in our modern world. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

a discovery of witches by deborah harkness

i actually listened to this book, and it might have been a mistake.(i have yet to have an enjoyable audio book experience.) i didn't enjoy this book very much. i don't know if it was because of the story/writing, or because i didn't like the audio recording. either way, i couldn't wait for it to end, and have no intention of reading any more of the series. 

i felt like the author put too much energy/page space into inserting her own ideosyncracies into the book through her main characters. how many times do we need to hear about bottomless appetites and the over-consumption of tea and wine and whiskey? tedious. 

even more tedious was the main character, who is described as independent and smart and driven, yet spends the whole book cowering and whining and basically acting like the worst possible stereotypical romance novel female ever. 

half broke horses by jeannette walls

this was a book club pick and i had my reservations about reading it because it's from the same author as the glass castle, which i couldn't finish. but it was very good. it tells the life story of the author's grandmother. it's funny, and sad, and unbelievable, and aggravating. i handed it off to my mother who handed it off to her friend, and we all loved it.

the once and future king by t.h. white

i've been meaning to read this for years. this story of king arthur is a classic in the fantasy genre. white's novel is the basis for the movies the sword in the stone and camelot. the book, as always, has much more story than the movies (combined).

it's a bigger read than i anticipated, and it got rather tedious in a few places, but overall i really enjoyed it. a good read for arthurian enthusiast and fantasy readers. 

tigers in red weather by liza klaussmann

i thought i would really like this, but it was a major letdown. i didn't like any of the characters, i found the storytelling style uncomfortable and distracting, and the whole book just felt perverse. nothing but dysfunction and narcissism and destruction.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

the physick book of deliverance dane by katherine howe

what if some of the women tried in the salem witch trials were really witches? 

that's the premise of this book.

i've been curious about this book for awhile and picked it up when i found it in a used book store. 

it was fun, a good summer read. it jumps back and forth from the present to the past, which got a little old. the past narrative was a little too cryptic and just seemed messy and confusing a lot of the time. the end brings it together, but it could have been more graceful in the telling throughout.

overall i really enjoyed it. i also appreciated that the author put up a suggested further reading list on her website for people interested in more scholastic reading on the time period and the salem witch trials.