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Showing posts from March, 2010

My First Stop for Filling in the Gaps: The Lost Symbol

I've been pretending to start reading the first of my Fill in the Gaps books any day now.

Oh, I've read some good books lately, and those perusing my recent reviews have read about them.  However, none have been on my Fill in the Gaps list. And, frankly, that's a problem: how in the world can I get them all read in time?  I'm in trouble!

Until now.

Of the 100 books on my list, none have jumped off the shelves and into my hands — until....

Drum roll, please:

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.

Bless the library for having a copy on the shelves when I dropped off my other books a few days ago.  (I've been scanning the bargain tables, but so far, alas, no symbol — and with as quickly as I devour his books, I need 'em discounted, like cheap junk food for a sugar high.)

I've already set aside a little time this weekend to get lost in the book.  I've enjoyed his other novels, so I suspect his magic will still hold.  (And Katie, I promise I'm also reading The Ter…

Review: The Swan Thieves

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Elizabeth Kostova always has something interesting lurking in her books.

They always begin very straightforward with an engaging premise: a girl encounters her father's letters, a psychiatrist has a silent, violent patient referred to him.  It's a nice hook, one you think you can see coming.

However, Kostova veers off the tried-and-true path into an undiscovered country.  After reading The Historian, I knew I'd follow her anywhere — and yet I was skeptical when I discovered the premise of The Swan Thieves.  Blame it on my inability to draw or paint, or maybe my intimidation of Art History (note the initial caps) — but I was not sure if it was my cup of tea.

What was I thinking? It was Elizabeth Kostova.  'Nuff said.

In her second novel, Kostova introduces us to Andrew Marlow, a psychiatrist and painter who has a sad, silent patient referred to him. The psychiatric patient, Robert, was arrested for trying to knife a painting at the National Gallery of Art.  During his s…

TMI in a Book Review

When I saw the Washington Post had published a review of Black Hills, too, I wanted to compare it to my review, just for fun.

I find most reviewers reveal way too much about the storyline of a movie, book or television show, but since I had read the book, I wasn't too worried that the reviewer would sully the review with spoilers, at least for me.

What I didn't expect was a spoiler for another Simmons book on my reading list.

The Post's reviewer quickly included comparisons to Simmons' other recent novels, including The Terror, which is next in my lineup of readables.  Did I really need to have the book mini-reviewed here?  And with spoilers?

I get that there may be similarities between the books, so compare them.  Heck, I did the same thing with Drood in my review.

However, please don't reveal the entire story, including the finale, as a casual side note to the Real Review.

I'm a bit of a purist.  After reading the Post's review of the latest Indiana Jone…

Review: Black Hills

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I always begin a novel by Dan Simmons with great expectations and an open mind.  He never goes where I expect him to go with a story, and the resulting adventure always is worthy.  Black Hills was no exception.

This complex novel begins with 10-year-old Sioux boy Paha Sapa counting coup among the dead at Little Big Horn.  That in itself is a paradigm shift: wasichu, or non-Indians, consider it a defeat — but for the young boy, it is a victory.  This is the first of many perception shifts readers will experience with this young boy as his life progresses.

This book begins with a bang, as the young boy touches a dying, long-haired blonde man, and winds up with the ghost/spirit of "Long Hair" in his mind, babbling incoherently (from the perspective of a boy who doesn't speak the ghost's language).  Coupled with his new-found ability to view the future and perceive the past of a person by merely touching the other person's hand, the young boy has many talents that se…

Top 10 Infamous Fake Memoirs

Top 10 Infamous Fake Memoirs

from Listverse:
A memoir can hardly be expected to contain the whole truth. Memories are faulty and the authors, of course, are presenting their own personal view of themselves. But faulty memories, omission, and slight exaggeration are far different than completely warping the truth or creating an entirely imaginary life. Whatever their motivation, many people have published false memoirs and many more people have unknowingly and ardently supported them. When the memoir is revealed as false, a surprisingly common reaction is to appeal to the emotional truth of the story. It’s about how we feel in our guts, not what reality dictates. I submit that such ideas are dangerous and should be strongly opposed. The truth is important, and it should not be sacrificed for romantic notions rooted in irrationalism. We read and create true stories of triumph and tragedy all of the time, but if we have the urge to dramatize real events we can: it’s called fiction.
This …

Grammarians, Celebrate National Grammar Day March 4!

I officially love Martha Brockenbrough.

The founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar (SPOGG) and author of Things That Make Us [sic] created National Grammar Day in 2008.  National Grammar Day is March 4.

Now, that's a holiday I can fully support.  You know this to be true, those of you who have lived through my discussions (that's what I'm calling them) regarding extraneous commas, Random capitalization, split infinitives and sentences ending in prepositions — not to mention noun-verb agreement, proper hyphenation and, for the love of all that's holy, the proper use of ordinal and cardinal numbers, especially in dates.

My love of grammar is so notorious that a friend recognized my handwriting on a sign in a women's restroom in my hometown.  "You scratched out that apostrophe, didn't you?" Vicky asked.  Yes, I did.  And I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

I am totally unapologetic about my adherence to grammar rules, and I will speak i…