Tuesday, January 10, 2012

From the Archives: July 2005

I began keeping a reading journal several years before I began blogging. I find it interesting to sift through my thoughts of books that I read back then. My reviews were often brief and contained little substance, but I thought it'd be fun to document them here on my blog as well as share them with you. Here are several from July 2005:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Bantam, 1813; Fiction, 360 pgs)
Pride and Prejudice has regained popularity in recent decades, the story making appearances in several movies and a renewal of interest in the book outside of classroom reading assignments for high school and college literature classes. My own interest in rereading this old classic was piqued by the mention of Jane Austen and her novels in the book, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, which I had read earlier in the year and in seeing the Bollywood production of Bride and Prejudice, a movie loosely based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice is a love story, full of comedy and drama that tells the tale of the Bennets, a family of five daughters. This is the story of smart and outspoken Elizabeth Bennet, the second eldest Bennet child, and Mr. Darcy, a prideful man whom Elizabeth takes an instant dislike to. Jane Austen has written a novel that has stood the test of time and continues to be enjoyed and related to in all its glory. Ms. Austen crafted a beautiful and moving story. She wasted no words, and there is not a scene in the book that does not belong or leave this reader wanting more.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic, 2005; YA Fantasy, 652 pgs)
Like so many others around the world, I got caught up in the Harry Potter frenzy, awaiting the release of the latest in this popular series by J.K. Rowling. Although I gave in to sleep instead of attending the crowded bookstore release parties, I did not wait long to find my way to the store to pick up my copy. I waited even less time to dive in and read the 6th book in the series. Returning to Harry Potter’s world was like visiting with old friends. It was easy to get caught up in the lives of Harry and his friends, cheering them on, holding my breath when situations grew tense, laughing out loud, and even shedding tears. J.K. Rowling seemed less inclined to spend time with description in this particular novel, however, the story moved along quickly and never lagged. Answers were given to mysteries unknown and the book ended with many more unanswered questions. The depth to the characters that emerged during Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was less evident in this book. Perhaps the fans will better receive this one, as it is slightly less dark, although I still believe the 5th book stands out above the rest. Definitely an enjoyable read and it will not disappoint Harry Potter fans, although not everyone will be happy with the demise of one of the characters.


By A Spider’s Thread by Laura Lippman (Avon , 2004; Crime Fiction, 352 pgs)
I picked up this book to take a break from another book I’ve been trying to read the past couple of weeks and am wondering why I never had heard of Laura Lippman before now. By A Spider’s Thread is her most recent P.I. Tess Monaghan novel and I will definitely be on the look out for the books in the series I’ve missed so far. Tess reminds me a little of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhoune: independent, smart, resourceful, and tough. In By A Spider’s Thread, Tess is hired by a wealthy Jewish Orthodox fur merchant to find his missing wife and their three children, however, Tess has her work cut out for her because the man who hired her isn’t immediately forthcoming with information about his family. I love the concept of the SnoopSisters, helping each other out across the country. Ms. Lippman opened her novel with what seemed like a simple case and as the story unraveled, it became more complex as secrets and motives were revealed. There was never a lack of suspense and I had a difficult time putting this one down.


The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter (Knopf, 2002; Crime Fiction, 657 pgs)

In The Emperor of Ocean Park, Stephen L. Carter tells the story of a son whose deceased father, a former federal appellate court judge, has left him a complicated riddle to solve, a mystery that puts his life in danger as he gets closer to the truth. This novel is heavy with politics, conspiracies and at times religion. It focuses much on familial relationships and self-discovery. Although a suspense novel, it read more like a general fiction novel.
Several times during my reading of the book, I felt that the author was on the cusp of taking the story to a new and better level only to be disappointed. I liked the author’s writing style; however, it was heaped with what I thought was unnecessary detail. As one friend suggested, the author did too much telling and not enough showing.
Another reason I had trouble getting interested in the book was that I had a hard time relating to any of the characters, particularly the main character, Talcott Garland, attorney and professor at an Ivy League law school. I never felt that connection that I often have with characters in the books I read, however small.
Despite that however, the book did have redeeming qualities. The author wrote an intelligent novel that was complex and multifaceted. The characters were well developed and realistic. The book was much more about them and their interactions, I thought, than the actual mystery surrounding Tal's mission to find out what the arrangements were. The story did interest me enough to bring me back to it and give it more of a chance. About 400 pages into the book, the book finally grabbed me the way I like to be grabbed by the books I read, and I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to see what happened next and not just because I was determined to finish it before the end of the month. I am glad I took the time to read this book, even though I found myself wondering why a couple of times. It was thought provoking and, in the end at least, entertaining.
Have you read any of these novels? If so, what did you think?

© 2012, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

10 comments:

  1. Loved Pride and Prejudice and the Harry Potter books, and I think you did a great job in your observations. I have been wanting to read that Lippman series for a long time now, and think that I may start it this year. I loved reading these book impressions, and thank you for sharing them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Heather! Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite novels. One day I hope to read all of Austen's books. I really liked Lippman's book. I understand her stand alones are even better.

      Delete
  2. I read Pride & Prejudice pre-blogging, too. It was mostly pretty good, but not entirely my thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Austen isn't for everyone, that's for sure. For me, I think it was just a matter of timing and age--but I know that isn't--and wouldn't be--the case for everyone.

      Delete
  3. Can you believe that I've never read anything by Austen??? Hideous, I know but I'm hoping to fix that this year. I have three of her books downloaded on my e-reader. I just need to read them. As always I love reading your thoughts on books that you read years ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have to give her a try at least once. :-) It always takes me a little bit to settle into her world, but once I do, I am hooked.

      Delete
  4. P&P and HP are some of my absolute favorite stories!! I read my first Lippman book last year and so enjoyed it. Now Carter is an author that I have't read...yet!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carter is very talented. I have read two of his books. He is great with characterization, even if his characters aren't always likeable. I have to be in a certain mood to read his books though because they tend to be a bit heavy.

      Delete
  5. It is wonderful that you have a journal to remind you of your past reading. I wish I had kept my journals where I used to jot down my thoughts about books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only wish I'd started journaling earlier than I did!

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to visit Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Don't be shy! I would love to hear from you. Due to a recent increase in spam, I will be moderating comments for the foreseeable future. Please be patient with me as it may take a few hours before I am able to approve your comment.