Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to my (still unidentified and probably nonexistent) readers! I hope 2012 brought you happiness, blessings, and abundant books and that 2013 will bring even greater joys! Here's a link to a listing of some of literature's greatest annual awards and their recipients or the current nominees for 2012.

National Book Awards:
http://www.nationalbook.org/nba2012.html#.UOHgsL-9Kc0
•From this list, the only book I picked up was This is How You Lose Her, which I neglected to finish. I may try it again soon but I lost the a lot of my interest in it several chapters in when the narrator changes without explanation, the new one lacking enough energy and wit to keep me entertained. Powerfully written in certain pockets, but woefully lagging in others.

National Book Critics Circle Award nominees:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2012/01/22/national-book-critics-circle-awards-_n_1221954.html
•I haven't read any of these books yet but they look interesting. Two books that particularly caught my attention from this list are Open City and The Marriage Plot, and I need to look into these further.

The Newberry and Caldecott Awards, both for young fiction:
http://trevorcairney.blogspot.com/2012/01/2012-newbery-caldecott-medal-winners.html?m=1
•I haven't read either of the winners but I'm still intrigued by YA fiction so there's a good chance I'll try one of these down the road. Both have been highly acclaimed so far.

The Pulitzer Prize:
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Pulitzer_Prize
•Perhaps one of the world's most renowned and coveted literature awards, the fiction Pulitzer Prize was not awarded this year because none of the three nominated works (all of which seem vastly interesting to me) won a majority of the Pulitzer panel's votes (as detailed on this Wikipedia page). I can't help but notice the recurrence of Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention on award lists, which has me very curious about it.

The PEN/Faulkner award nominees:
http://litreactor.com/news/finalists-for-the-2012-penfaulkner-award-announced
•I haven't read any of these books but several sound interesting, particularly the three-part novella series by Anita Desai, whose work on Baumgartner's Bombay I enjoyed.

The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the Chinese author Mo Yan, whose page on the Nobel Prize website can be found here:
http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2012/yan.html
•I have not read any of this author's work.

*The Bibliomaniac Book of the Year Award this year goes to Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. It wasn't written/released this year or even this century but I read it for the first time this year and thought it was wonderful! This is a stellar read and I hope to get its review posted here soon. This fought an extremely difficult war against The Night Circus, a new work by Erin Morgenstern, for the top spot. Other finalists for my list also included Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.


If you've read any excellent works in 2012, let me know! Post in the comments or drop me a line at YourBibliomaniac@gmail.com. Happy holidays everyone!
Always, Your Bibliomaniac

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Soooo there's this thing called school.


It's August. For a lot of you 9-to-5ers out there, this means hot weather, maybe a quick getaway with your family, and too many tourists clogging up your route to work. For students and their families (prime example: Your Bibliomaniac and her family) it means BACK TO SCHOOL. Here's the problem: when I am away at school, I do not have access to OneNote, which is the program I have always kept my book reviews on. This means updates from me will be less frequent and less orderly. There are still many more finished reviews which haven't been uploaded because it takes quite a lot of time to copy them from my documents, format them properly, and send them out into cyberspace. There will not be time for me upload these before I hit the road. For you, darling reader, this means:
1) No more reviews until I read and finish a new book. I'm currently reading Hot, Flat, and Crowded by the brilliant Thomas L. Friedman, so that will be coming soon.
2) My format may change (just a li'l).
3) When I get home for break, you'll get a barrage of previously-written reviews like there was late last night/early this morning.
Peace, love, books!
Always,
Your Bibliomaniac

Rumors: A Farce

JJJJJ
My View:   Hilarious. It's not a mushy Rogers & Hammerstien bit, or a tried-too-hard-and-look-what-we-got Thurber Carnival. It's truly hilarious and I wish I could be in it, especially as Chris.

    General Information:
    Method of Reading:
    Personally owned paperback, 113 pages
    Dates of Reading:
    August 27, 2010-August 28, 2010
    Author:
    Neil Simon
    Publication Year:
    1990
    Recommended To:
    All high school actors… It is painfully amazing.
    Or adult actors too, I guess.
    Quotes:

    Movie?
    No.
Always,
Your Bibliomaniac

Bibliographic info:
Simon, Neil. Rumors: A Farce. New York: Random House, 1990. Print.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This World We Live In

JJJ
My View:   So I walked away from this book really hating several characters, or just not agreeing with their choices, but it was still compelling. I think the series was a pretty realistic description of what a family like this would do after this kind of catastrophe, even if I dislike that many of them made bad decisions (but I think S.B.P. knew you'd hate some of them… and only did it to make them a little more interesting). It was fun and new seeing two stand-alone characters, who you came to understand as individuals for over 300 pages each in their own separate books, come together. However, I sort of wanted back into Alex's head for a while, and then I got greedy and wanted everyone's personal descriptions of the events around them because I had a weird sense of responsibility to understand them all. Nevertheless, the Romeo and Juliet plight was entertaining, and I enjoyed that this book changed from the last two books' goal of finding a way to survive. This was about living because you've survived. All of the characters have made it so far, and they now have to look around and say, "I'm surviving. But where's my life?" They get really Auntie-Mame-LIVE about the survival. This book is also beautifully written, and I can't remember if Alex's narrator was this good or if it's just Miranda, but either way, it had some really beautiful prose, and gripped me as these humans realize they have lives and sometimes sink back to their sub-human ways of survival. The holiest battles against the unmoving moon were waged in Howell and NYC, and I hated seeing the sites abandoned in the last pages.

Wikipedia Link: N/A
    General Information:
    Method of Reading:
    Kindle, 256 pages in hardcover
    Dates of Reading:
    December 27, 2010-December 28, 2010
    Page Count:
    256 in hardcover
    Author:
    Susan Beth Pfeffer
    Publication Year:
    2010
    Recommended To:
    Any girls (possibly not boys) who liked both of the originals.
    Quotes:
    "...end of the school year. Nothing good happened to Romeo or Juliet."

    "'I miss home,' he said. 'And the feeling you got in a library carrel, like nothing in the world mattered except the book you were reading.'"
    Movie?
    If the first two go well, heck yes.
Always,
Your Bibliomaniac

Bibliographic info:
Pfeffer, Susan Beth. This World We Live In. Orlando: Harcourt, 2010. Electronic.

The Dead and the Gone

JJJJJ
My View:   Great! It was actually a fantastic idea to make this novel from such a different perspective. Miranda's small-town life was only a small chunk of the asteroid's effects, and seeing how it changed the exact opposite type of lifestyle was neat, but also made me want more: The rich and powerful in evac centers, people in other countries, survivors just inland of tsunamis, anything. I really wanted to get an even wider perspective of what had become the moon's earth. Otherwise, really good, Alex was a nice change of pace from Miranda and his family and the third-person perspective create such a difference from the Evanses, that it's a nice companion to Miranda's journal.
    General Information:
    Method of Reading:
    Public Library hardcover novel, 321 pages
    Dates of Reading:
    December 21, 2010-December 22, 2010
    Author:
    Susan Beth Pfeffer
    Publication Year:
    2008
    Recommended To:
    Girls who liked the first, and maybe even their male peers, particularly Catholics.
    Quotes:
    "Maybe it was just too quiet to cry" (41).

    "It would just take time, he told himself. Time and a miracle" (47).
    Movie?
    None yet. I don't think it would be as good as one for Life As We Knew It. Alex isn't quite as compelling. He's not as honest and his plight isn't quite as personal, because he tends to be less selfish. Not that that is a bad thing, but Miranda's self-pity makes for a good, personal book or movie.
Always,
Your Bibliomaniac

Bibliographic info:
Pfeffer, Susan Beth. The Dead and the Gone. Orlando: Harcourt, 2008. Print.

Life As We Knew It

JJJJJ
My View:   Stunning. I rarely cry in books, but this was an exception. It pulled me in and I almost felt like I had to finish the book to get Miranda to a (hopefully) happy ending: I couldn't leave her and the rest of Howell. Miranda's voice has a perfect mix between sentiment, reason, and realism and you just can't abandon her until you finish. It made me feel like *my* world had been forever altered and *I* needed to worry about my friends surviving, and having enough food, water, oil, and energy to get through it all. I actually felt like I had to go check the moon out and make sure it hadn't moved. Very intense and moving, with a 100%-relatable character and a frightening plot. I must get my hands on the companion!
    General Information:
    Method of Reading:
    Public Library hardcover novel, 337 pages
    Dates of Reading:
    August 16, 2010-August 18, 2010
    Author:
    Susan Beth Pfeffer
    Publication Year:
    2006
    Recommended To:
    All teen girl readers. This was amazing and so real that any girl could pick it up and believe it.
    Warning: This is not for the faint of heart or anyone under age 12.
    Quotes:
    "those stupid tests (or by those tests where I was stupid)" (69).
    Movie?
    No, but it'd be a dream come true if I could audition for Miranda. Who cares that I don't like dramas? This book breaks too many rules to not break that one, too.
Always,
Your Bibliomaniac

Bibliographic info:
Pfeffer, Susan Beth. Life as We Knew It. Orlando: Harcourt, 2006. Print.

The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People

JJJJJ
My View:   Some plays are meant to be read, others are meant to be analyzed, others are meant to be performed. This one has the extraordinary ability to be all three. I enjoyed reading this comedy of manners and although it would be funnier to see on stage, the comedy produced enough giggles while I read it. The end, when Jack discovers that his given name (when he was known as Algy's older brother− before Miss Prism misplaced him) is Ernest is hasty and leaves many unanswered questions, but the play's style doesn't seem to demand a drawn-out explanation. It focuses on the absurdity of the plot, not the realism of it. The fun, crazy, sporadic style of writing makes it little wonder that the play is so beloved. A classic and very funny!
    General Information:
    Method of Reading:
    iTouch app, "Masterpieces," 64 pages in paperback
    Dates of Reading:
    August 2, 2010-August 3, 2010
    Author:
    Oscar Wilde
    Publication Year:
    1895
    Recommended To:
    Actors, actresses, and people who just love something fast and fun to read… all with good senses of humor.
    Quotes:
    "'The truth is rarely pure and never simple.'"

    "'she is a monster without being a myth, which is rather unfair'"

    "'They will be calling each other sister.'
    ...'Women only do that when they have called each other a lot of other things first.'"

     "'I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.'"
    Movie?
    Yup, 2002. Featuring Rupert Everett as Algernon, Colin Firth as Jack, and Reese Witherspoon as Cecily.  It sounds so good, I'm sitting here wondering why haven't I seen it?
Always,
Your Bibliomaniac

Bibliographic info:
Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Electronic.

Northanger Abbey

JJJJJ
My View:   Brilliant! I thought the book was magnificently written. Catherine is, truly, a simple creature. Yet it isn't hard to see why Austen found this particular figment of her imagination so intriguing to write about. Catherine's real flaws give her a soft spot in all our hearts. She is more like Elizabeth Bennet, I think, than one would realize. Under different circumstances, this could have been Lizzy… just a quieter, less educated one. We can't all be the life-driving heroine portrayed in Pride and Prejudice all the time. Everybody has had a moment as the shy, hopeful girl wanting to break out of her ignorance (but never realizing it) that Catherine represents. The real love Mr. Tilney offers her is beautiful and true. Definitely re-read!!!
Also, I have realized Austen's only flaw: Nearly all of her books (excluding this one and the beloved P&P) have dull spots in the middle that drive readers crazy. Since this didn't have that, just a constant stream of excitement, it makes the Top Austens list!
    General Information:
    Method of Reading:
    Kindle, 256 pages in paperback
    Dates of Reading:
    July 21, 2010-July 31, 2010
    Author:
    Jane Austen
    Publication Year:
    1817
    Recommended To:
    Austen girls… yeah, all of them. I loved every minute of reading this and know they will, too.
    Quotes:
    "There was a great deal of good sense in all this;  but there are some situations of the human mind in which good sense has very little power; and Catherine's feelings contradicted almost every position her mother advanced."

    "To go previously engaged to a ball does not necessarily increase either the dignity or the enjoyment of a young lady."

    "...and in finding him irresistible, becoming so herself."

    "Yes; I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible."

    "No man is offended by another man's admiration of the woman he loved; it is the woman only who can make it a torment"

    "You have gained a new source of enjoyment, and it is well to have as many holds upon happiness as possible."
    Movie?
    Yep! Like all Austens, a few people have taken a swing at it. This, however, is one I really want to see, especially if "Catherine" did an amazing job. Her character is like Lizzy's father: It needs someone really creative to make it perfect! Unfortunately, this book only became a made-for-TV PBS movie. Sad… :(
Always,
Your Bibliomaniac

Bibliographic info:
Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Electronic.

The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar

JJJJJ
My View:   Brilliant! Amazing character writing, a fantastic story, amazingly imaginative and entertaining. Loved it and it's creative, fresh take on a well-known story. Re-readable? Heck yes!
Wikipedia Link: N/A
General Information:
    Method of Reading:
    Kindle, 229 pages in paperback
    Dates of Reading:
    July 20, 2010-July 21, 2010
    Author:
    Robert Alexander
    Publication Year:
    2004
    Recommended To:
    History buffs… ages 14+.
    Quotes:
    "[we] used our eyes to say what our mouths cannot speak."
    Movie?
    Not yet. But it could make a great one!
Always,
Your Bibliomaniac

Bibliographic info:
Alexander, Robert. The Kitchen Boy. New York: Viking, 2003. Print.

Girl With a Pearl Earring

JJJ
My View:   Since it had an undefined start and end, odd characters and character relationships, and a heroine whose mentality can never be pinned down, it's tough to say why this book is so loved. But pulling that story out of Vermeer's famed painting is quite amazing, and everything Chevalier says about Griet and how she came to pose for that portrait fits perfectly. Although her character is almost never straightforwardly revealed, you come to feel like you really know her by the end of the story. A good summer read and worth a re-read for the beach one summer. I often wonder though, about what the real girl's story was. I guess we'll never know, but I certainly hope Chevalier didn't write anything the real girl wouldn't have liked. :o

    General Information:
    Method of Reading:
    Public Library hardcover novel, 233 pages
    Dates of Reading:
    July 18, 2010-July 19, 2010
    Author:
    Tracy Chevalier
    Publication Year:
    1999
    Recommended To:
    Reader girls who enjoy history. Ages 15+.
    Quotes:

    Movie?
    Yep, very famous. But I've never seen it. When Dad saw me carrying the book, though, he said "Oh, like the movie?"
Always,
Your Bibliomaniac

Bibliographic info:
Chevalier, Tracy. Girl with the Pearl Earring. New York: Plume, 1999. Print.

The Blind Side

JJJJJ
My View:   Loved the book! Well-told in a humorous, fun way that Radioactive Boyscout and Havana Dreams found it impossible to achieve. Instead of standing on the sidelines of the game, Lewis gets into every detail of every personality who ever dealt with Michael Oher. His football discussions are alive and so easy to understand that even I didn't get lost... and when I read this I was absolutely football-illiterate (I have a brother who, bless him, tried teaching me the basics of the game a million times. No luck. I now attend a big football college, so I'm getting better! But I still mostly cheer when others cheer, boo when they boo, etc.). A wonderful book about an amazing family with an amazing son. Definitely worth a re-read. I liked it just as much as the movie, although the book shows the whole scope of Michael's successes and losses, instead of only the glory of his relationship to his "Mama," Leigh Anne Tuohy.
    General Information:
    Method of Reading:
    Public Library hardcover novel, 299 pages
    Dates of Reading:
    July 13, 2010-July 18, 2010
    Author:
    Michael Lewis
    Publication Year:
    2010
    Recommended To:
    Sports fans and anyone who enjoyed the movie (although grades 9+ may be best).
    Quotes:
    "He expected more of himself on the field than a coach would dare to ask of a player" (16).

    "'God gives people money to see how you're going to handle it,' [Leigh Anne] said. And she intended to prove she knew how to handle it" (59).

    "[Sean's] arms were extended in a way that said−Behold! Do you not see the million-dollar house gorgeously appointed with hundreds of thousands of dollars in furnishings? Did you somehow miss the five cars in the driveway? The BMW? Do I need to call my pilots and order Air Taco to buzz NCAA headquarters?" (199).
    Movie?
    Of course! I saw it before I read the book, not expecting to like it (as I do not like sports or dramas). But I loved it! I majorly recommend seeing the movie.
Always,
Your Bibliomaniac

Bibliographic info:
Lewis, Michael. The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. Print.

Gimme a Call

JJJJJ
My View:   I love this book! I semi-randomly chose it (bit of a Hail Mary) while at Barnes & Noble, even though the story sounded cheesy. Why? Because Jen Calonita had a recommendation on the back, and Libba Bray and Ally Carter were in the Acknowledgements.
I am so glad I trusted them.
It's perfect (and not cheesy despite feeling low-budget). Devi (at all ages) is an every-girl type of character, but she has an actual personality. Very relatable in many ways, especially when she's being an over-achiever. Definitely about to be placed reverently on my re-read shelf.
Wikipedia Link: N/A
    General Information:
    Method of Reading:
    Personally owned hardcover novel, 301 pages
    Dates of Reading:
    July 11, 2010-July 13, 2010
    Author:
    Sarah Mlynowski
    Publication Year:
    2010
    Recommended To:
    Any girl my age or even a year or so younger. It'd be completely age-appropriate for a girl headed into eighth grade. I'll certainly recommend it to friends.
    Quotes:
    "'I don't want a new phone!'…
       'But this one has Bluetooth. And a navigator'" (241).
    Movie?
    No, but there's gotta be one! It's the type of book that some movie company will latch onto way too quickly and possibly ruin if rushed. But if done properly, I can see it becoming a classic!
Always,
Your Bibliomaniac

Bibliographic info:
Mlynowski, Sarah. Gimme a Call. New York: Delacorte, 2010. Print.

Proudly human

After making over 50 posts in less than 24 hours, Blogger conferred on me a great honor. They sent me an e-mail asking whether I was robotic. Now I have to decipher one of those number-and-letters squiggly box pictures whenever I post, and they're nearly impossible to read, but apparently prove that I am a human being. Ladies and gents of the WWW, I would like to confirm that I, Your Bibliomaniac, am not a robot. But let me quickly explain why I have been able to post so much so quickly:
Your Bibliomaniac is a real, live person who has been enjoying and reviewing the books posted here for 3 years. This means that her poor little OneNote journal has accumulated over one hundred pages of reviews and book data. When she finally decided this summer to do something with those pages (not necessarily something useful, but hopefully you... she still doesn't know who you are... like it), she was able to very quickly upload a lot of content. It is really extraordinarily time-consuming and she may do it at 2am occasionally, but it must be published.
And so, my dear reader, you are now reading a lot of content all at once. And you will have more soon. But I will not be posting 50+ new books' reviews every day. Like you, I am but a simple reader. I love good reading, but I am, alas...
                                                                                                                                   only human.



Always,
Your (homo sapien) Bibliomaniac

The Possibilities of Sainthood

JJJJJ
My View:   Love loved it. I loved the style it was written in, I loved the characters, I loved the story, and I loved the message. It even got me interested in researching the patron saints of various everyday things. If I owned this book, it would definitely become a constant fixture on my nightstand like the Gallagher Girls, Secrets of My Hollywood Life, or The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Praying for a sequel (perhaps to St. James Duckett, St. John of God, St. John the Apostle, St. Paul the Apostle, or St. Thomas Aquinas, all patrons of book sellers. Oddly, there is no patron saint of reading. Better get on that, Antonia!).
Wikipedia Link: N/A
    General Information:
    Method of Reading:
    Public Library hardcover novel, 272 pages
    Dates of Reading:
    July 9, 2010-July 9, 2010
    Author:
    Donna Freitas
    Publication Year:
    2008
    Recommended To:
    Catholic high school girls (as in, girls who are Catholic and are in high school... I mean, you could go to a Catholic high school, too but I don't) who like to read. Otherwise, it's just probably not gonna be funny.
    Quotes:
    Movie?
    No, but I kinda want one! Too bad I couldn't play the (extremely Italian-looking) main character. That would be so much fun.
Always,
Your Bibliomaniac

Bibliographic info:
Freitas, Donna. The Possibilities of Sainthood. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008. Print.