March 4, 2012

The Reading Files - Reading as usual

I might be hiatus-ing, but that obviously did not keep me from reading this past two weeks. And, being a real good girl, I plowed through a number of books I had lined up for review too. Let's have a look, shall we?

Without Mercy (Belinda Boring)
#1 Mystic Wolves
Source: won
Genre: Paranormal Romance

What would you do if a simple errand takes a deadly twist, turning you from cautious prey to dangerous predator?
When Darcy's outing takes a turn for the worst and tests her to the point of breaking, she struggles to maintain her humanity. Where loyalty and pack mean everything, she surrenders to the inevitable and only an act of complete trust can touch her. When all is said and done, with memories flooding her mind, Darcy holds tightly to the only thing that makes sense - it was all a dream. Or was it?

Title & Cover: Ok, and certainly fits the story!
Story: An encounter between a human and werewolves that doesn't end well. And heck, that guy deserved to die!
Narrative: Intense and expressive!
Characters: Strong and well devised!
Thoughts: Unbelievable how such a short story could pull me in like this. In only a few pages a whole world comes alive in front of the reader. This author has got talent that's for sure - love the writing style!

Death By Chocolate (DeAnna Knippling)
Source: won
Genre: Contemporary Fiction (sort of)

Ellie can’t see it, but she’s a saint. A good girl who takes care of her Grandie at the nursing home, recycles other people’s trash, and worries about getting her loans out on time so she doesn’t inconvenience her customers.
It’s too much for the Devil to resist: is Ellie good, or is she just boring? He makes her a deal. She can be thin, pretty, and immortal…as long as she doesn’t eat chocolate. Ever. If she does, she’s going straight to Hell.
Except Ellie doesn’t like chocolate, so he better find something—or someone—better to tempt her with. Then the bad boy at the top of Ellie’s sexual bucket list appears. Coincidence? Probably not.

Title & Cover: Probably the best thing about this book!
Story: Girl sells soul to the devil and ends up not resisting temptation. A bit quirky and a bit weird.
Narrative: A sort of choppy writing style that I just couldn't get into.
Characters: Nondescript despite descriptions. Then again it wasn't all that much about the characters and more about the message (now if only I could find out what that might have been).
Thoughts: This has been a strange book. Unfortunately it was also one of those books that just didn't work for me. If you like the plot idea, I say go for it, but personally, well I didn't really get it.

Hit Lit (James W. Hall)
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Non Fiction / Literature

What do Michael Corleone, Jack Ryan, and Scout Finch have in common? Creative writing professor and thriller writer James W. Hall knows. Now, in this entertaining, revelatory book, he reveals how bestsellers work, using twelve twentieth-century blockbusters as case studies—including The Godfather, Gone with the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Jaws. From tempting glimpses inside secret societies, such as submariners in The Hunt for Red October, and Opus Dei in The Da Vinci Code, to vivid representations of the American Dream and its opposite—the American Nightmare—in novels like The Firm and The Dead Zone, Hall identifies the common features of mega-bestsellers. Including fascinating and little-known facts about some of the most beloved books of the last century, Hit Lit is a must-read for fiction lovers and aspiring writers alike, and makes us think anew about why we love the books we love.

Title & Cover: Totally dig that cover!
Story: Twelve American bestsellers of the 20th century and what they have in common.
Narrative: Engrossing, informative, and accessible. which isn't something that one should take for granted when it comes to authors dissecting literature.
Characters: Scarlett O'Hara and the Godfather, to name but a few.
Thoughts: This is a truly fascinating view on the bestseller-making parts these books all have in common though ultimately a great book will always be more than its individual parts. Admittedly I would have loved a broader approach to the topic and not just the focus on American bestsellers.

Death By Petticoat (Mary Miley Theobald)
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Non Fiction / History

Every day stories from American history that are not true are repeated in museums and classrooms across the country. Some are outright fabrications; others contain a kernel of truth that has been embellished over the years. Collaborating with The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Mary Theobald has uncovered the truth behind many widely-repeated myth-understandings in our history including:
·Hat makers really were driven mad. They were poisoned by the mercury used in making hats from furs. Their symptoms included hallucinations, tremors, and twitching, which looked like insanity to people of the 17th and 18th centuries—and the phrase “mad as a hatter” came about.
·The idea that portrait painters gave discounts if their subjects posed with one hand inside the vest (so they didn’t have to paint fingers and leading to the saying that something “costs an arm and a leg”) is strictly myth. It isn’t likely that Napoleon, King George III, or George Washington were concerned about getting a discount from their portrait painters.
·Pregnant women secluded themselves indoors, uneven stairs were made to trip up burglars, people bathed once a year, women had tiny waists, apprenticeships last seven years – Death by Petticoat reveals the truth about these hysterical historical myth-understandings.

Title & Cover: Nice and quirky! Did you noticed the skulls on that apron, teehee!
Story: A wild collection of American history myths, their origins, and why most of them don't even hold a kernel of truth.
Narrative: A quick and light read!
Characters: Our forefathers who obviously did not always do what we think they did.
Thoughts: This proved to be a very brief view on several myths, some of which are certainly fascinating, but most make me wonder where on Earth the author dug them out as they are utterly ridiculous (on second thought, maybe I'm just too educated). Would make for an ok little book in a museum shop though!

Surprised By Laughter (Terry Lindvall)
Source: BookSneeze
Genre: Non Fiction / Literature / Religion

Surprised by Laughter looks at the career and writings of C. S. Lewis and discovers a man whose life and beliefs were sustained by joy and humor.
All of his life, C. S. Lewis possessed a spirit of individuality. An atheist from childhood, he became a Christian as an adult and eventually knew international acclaim as a respected theologian. He was known worldwide for his works of fiction, especially the Chronicles of Narnia; and for his books on life and faith, including Mere Christianity, A Grief Observed, and Surprised by Joy. But perhaps the most visible difference in his life was his abiding sense of humor. It was through this humor that he often reached his readers and listeners, allowing him to effectively touch so many lives.
Terry Lindvall takes an in-depth look at Lewis’s joyful approach toward living, dividing his study of C. S. Lewis’s wit into the four origins of laughter in Uncle Screwtape’s eleventh letter to a junior devil in Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters: joy, fun, the joke proper, and flippancy. Lindvall writes, “One bright and compelling feature we can see, sparking in his sunlight and dancing in his moonlight, is laughter. Yet it is not too large to see at once because it inhabited all Lewis was and did.”
Surprised by Laughter reveals a Lewis who enjoyed the gift of laughter, and who willingly shared that gift with others in order to spread his faith.

Title & Cover: This one's neat ... and pretty much all that managed to make me smile about this book!
Story: A journey through joy, fun, jokes and satire - in Lewis' writing and living.
Narrative: Perfect for those academically inclined readers out there.
Characters: C.S. Lewis, obviously.
Thoughts: I rarely give up on a book, but this time I had to. Obviously humor is serious business, dry and dull to boot. So instead of fighting through this tome I called it quits after 100 pages. That instantly brought that missing smile back on my face!

Triumph Of The City (Edward Glaeser)
Source: Pan MacMillan
Genre: Non Fiction / Society / Economy

In 2009, for the first time in history, more than half the world's population lived in cities. In a time when family, friends and co-workers are a call, text, or email away, 3.3 billion people on this planet still choose to crowd together in skyscrapers, high-rises, subways and buses. Not too long ago, it looked like our cities were dying, but in fact they boldly threw themselves into the information age, adapting and evolving to become the gateways to a globalized and interconnected world. Now more than ever, the well-being of human society depends upon our knowledge of how the city lives and breathes. Understanding the modern city and the powerful forces within it is the life's work of Harvard urban economist Edward Glaeser, who at forty is hailed as one of the world's most exciting urban thinkers. Travelling from city to city, speaking to planners and politicians across the world, he uncovers questions large and small whose answers are both counterintuitive and deeply significant. Should New Orleans be rebuilt? Why can't my nephew afford an apartment in New York? Is London the new financial capital of the world? Is my job headed to Bangalore? In TRIUMPH OF THE CITY, Glaeser takes us around the world and into the mind of the modern city - from Mumbai to Paris to Rio to Detroit to Shanghai, and to any number of points in between - to reveal how cities think, why they behave in the manners that they do, and what wisdom they share with the people who inhabit them.

Title & Cover: This book appears in quite an array of different covers, this one being my own edition. It's ok, but my favorite is definitely the Penguin edition.
Story: What cities are made of. What makes them rise. What makes them fall.
Narrative: Smart and insightful!
Characters: City dwellers.
Thoughts: A fascinating look on the modern city, it's dynamics and economic perspectives, plus highly comprehensible written too. I might not appreciate city life as fully as the author does, though I loved his thought provoking presentation of what makes cities tick.

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