AEriko's Book Corner

SPOILER ALERT!

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See

Oh, God. What do I even say about this book? Fascinating look at the brutal lives of women in a remote county of China, compelling relationships between women, whatever. I'm GUTTED. This novel drew me in really quickly and I couldn't even tell you what exactly about it got to me but I became really emotionally invested in Snow Flower and Lily. I finished the book in one night.

Even though the end of their relationship wasn't foreshadowed so much as flat-out stated, it didn't prepare me.

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This is worse than I felt about what happened to Jake in the Dark Tower series.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon

The Girl Who Chased the Moon - Sarah Addison Allen This was my first time reading a book by this author. While I wanted to like it, I have to say I wasn't particularly impressed. The author is good at ambiance and description, but not particularly adept at characterization or pacing. Ninety percent of the novel is too slow and the climax is too abrupt and simple. As far as the characters go, I didn't find their emotions particularly believable, and there was also way too much "I must keep away from this man -but I just can't resist his allure! I am putty in his hands!" Also, the author -like Stephenie Meyer- seems to think that someone entering a teenage girl's room without her knowledge or permission is romantic instead of unacceptable stalker behavior.

Then there's the fact that the magical realism doesn't add a single thing to the story. It actually detracts from the central themes and overall quality of the novel. I also found the Coffey family secret to be fairly idiotic. Not only did it immediately reminded me of Twilight, my first thought was, "that's it?"

I feel like the author was trying to do too much and couldn't handle it: small town ambiance and food and personal growth and magical happenings and overcoming the past and troubled love. The novel would have been much stronger if it focused solely on Emily's problems -being judged for her mother's sins, and reconciling the town's memories of her Mom with her own memories.

The Complete Brambly Hedge

The Complete Brambly Hedge - Jill Barklem All of these stories are wonderfully illustrated with well-thought out, incredibly detailed scenes. At least half the enjoyment in this book comes from poring over them. The stories are charming and perfect for young children. Or single adults who are indulging their nostalgia and like pretty pictures.

I remember having the book Sea Story as a child and really loving the illustrations. Twenty-something years later, I work in Japan teaching children and thought of the book when lesson planning. A few months later I thought of it again and decided to see if there were more stories and if I could buy it. I was very happy to find that there are actually 8 stories and amazon.com Japan sells the hardcover compilation for around 3,000¥. So I ordered one. I don't even have children of my own, just wanted a copy for myself!


SPOILER ALERT!

The Prisoner of Heaven: A Novel (P.S.)

The Prisoner of Heaven: A Novel (P.S.) - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Once I started this book, I couldn't put it down! I even read it when I should have been working.... My only complaint about Prisoner of Heaven is that it's so short. Well, that and

the epilogue ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.

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Now that I've read all the books in this series, I want to go re-read them all. Ruiz Zafon has created a rich, intricate storyline with complex, three-dimensional characters that really draw the reader in. He is a very skilled writer. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books is now tied for first as my favorite book series.

The Lake

The Lake - Banana Yoshimoto, Michael Emmerich I enjoyed reading this. Actually, it's more accurate to say that I couldn't put it down. Even though I put it on my Kindle expecting to finish it over a few commutes, I ended up finishing it in a day. Part of that is the prose is easy to get through and the book is short, but most of it is that Yoshimoto wrote the book very well. I very much wanted to know what happened to Nakajima, and it was interesting to see Chihiro's emotional change as well. The relationship that builds up between Nakajima and Chihiro was also handled well. After reading this, I'd like to read other books by this author.

Until the Real Thing Comes Along

Until the Real Thing Comes Along - Elizabeth Berg This book was okay, I suppose. While it was an interesting story, I found it difficult to like Patty and that spoiled most of my enjoyment of the book.

Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore - Haruki Murakami I wanted to love this book, but to be honest I came away wondering what the point of it all was. It felt like Murakami tried hard to explore themes like fate, taboo, life and death, and the relationship between dreams and reality. But I can't say I think he managed it particularly well in this book. There was more surrealism than actual substance, and I don't think he chose an effective narrative structure. The secondary characters were actually more compelling than Kafka and Nakata. I thought Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World was a much better book and enjoyed reading it more.

The Old Man and the Wasteland

The Old Man and the Wasteland - Nick Cole This was a 99 cent buy off of Amazon, and it had a lot of positive reviews. It had an interesting portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world and made references to Hemmingway's Old Man and the Sea (which I haven't actually read). However, I like my books to have more dialogue and the pacing really crawled. The prose wasn't particularly great, either. In addition, the book's climax was kind of ridiculous and didn't seem to mesh with the first two thirds of the book. In this case, I got what I paid for. You should probably only pick this up if you really love Hemmingway and don't mind reading other people's not-so-great imitations.

The Dresden Files Collection 1-6

The Dresden Files Collection 1-6 - Jim Butcher

The first few books were good, and I enjoyed the urban fantasy aspect of it all. That said, later books get repetitive, the main character never really changes substantially, and Jim Butcher should not be allowed to write women characters.

Practical Magic

Practical Magic - Alice Hoffman I rented this book on audio CD. While I found the story to be interesting and engaging, and while I liked the characters, I really hated how the person read it. She tried to do voices for the characters, and it just didn't work well.
SPOILER ALERT!

Spy Glass (Opal Cowan Trilogy - Book 3) (Glass Trilogy)

Spy Glass (Opal Cowan Trilogy - Book 3) (Glass Trilogy) - Maria V. Snyder

It was entertaining, but I really disagreed with the author's choice to have Opal end up with the person that abused her. There was very little substance to Devlen's character, his redemption was unconvincing, and Kade had always treated Opal right. It felt more like Opal gave in to Stockholm Syndrome. The plot was otherwise engaging and interesting, but the romance aspect (cheating, Opal, really?) made it a letdown as a conclusion to the trilogy.

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré

I really liked books one through four. But this is the book that made me stop reading the series.

For one thing, the whole prophecy thing struck me as kind of idiotic.

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Also, Harry spends a lot of time speaking in caps lock. If an author can't show emphasis or shouting without resorting to writing dialogue in all capital letters, she needs to study the basics of writing. There's really no excuse for the sheer number of caps lock sentences. It made the book look like something written by a teenager.

The last thing I really hated was just personal preference on my part. Bad things happened to a character I liked.

All Creatures Great and Small

All Creatures Great and Small - James Herriot I read these when I was just a kid, but I remember loving them. They were funny and heartwarming. In fact, I'll probably re-read them soon!

Son of the Shadows

Son of the Shadows - Juliet Marillier

I enjoyed this book when I read it some years ago. The first one was even better, I thought. But somehow it didn't leave me interested in reading any of the other books of the series.

Where the Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern Grows - Wilson Rawls I read this book in 6th grade, and it made my classmate cry. It wasn't really an enjoyable read, and was pretty depressing.

A Light in the Window

A Light in the Window - Jan Karon

This book was recommended to me by a friend. While the book was well-written, interesting, and character-driven, I ended up skimming through it after the first 80 pages or so. It's basically a feel-good novel. There was much more Christianity in it than I would have preferred, as I am not Christian, but I figured I'd give it a shot and found that while the book was about a preacher, it wasn't actually preachy. Still, it's not something I would have picked up on my own. While the background characters were mostly likeable and developed well, I found myself wishing Father Tim would stop dithering and just grow a pair. He was hard for me to like. The book has a lot of good points, but I don't plan on reading any of the others. Christian lit just isn't my thing, especially not a series that centers around a man as weak-willed as Father Tim.