Thursday, June 02, 2011

From the Archives: Mini Reviews from March 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. Being back at work and as little reading as I've been able to do, I thought I would share my thoughts (however brief) on several books I read in March of 2005:

I remember hearing quite a bit about mother and daughter writing team P.J. Tracy when Monkeewrench first came out. Their first book in their series got quite a lot of positive buzz. I still enjoy the series quite a bit, although am one book behind. Something I should remedy soon!

Monkeewrench by P.J. Tracy
Putnam, 2003 ~ Crime Fiction, 373 pgs

Someone has turned a computer game about catching a serial killer into reality by mimicking the fictional murders from the game. It’s a race against time as law enforcement and the game makers try to uncover the identity of the killer before anyone else dies. With an assorted cast of colorful characters, Monkeewrench is an entertaining, at times humorous, and suspenseful novel written by a mother and daughter team. This is definitely a mystery worth reading. Rating: * (Very Good)

My favorite book of 2005 was Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I still think of the book quite fondly and consider it one of my all time favorites.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Picador, 2002 ~ Fiction, 529 pgs

Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel, Middlesex, tells the story of the Greek-American Stephanides family, spanning three generations over eight decades. Through the narration of Calliope (Cal) Stephanides, we enter into the life of a Greek family during a tumultuous time in Turkey, their crossover into America, and we see the unfolding of an American dream. This is also the story of Calliope who was raised as a girl but is physiologically a hermaphrodite, being more male than female, a realization that did not come to light until Calliope hit puberty.

Middlesex was a pleasant surprise. I thought it was well written, intriguing and difficult to put down. Mr. Eugenides’ creates an unusual protagonist who found a way into my heart from the very first page. With the serious mixed in with the humor, the story was never boring. I was especially drawn into the setting of the novel, not only the locations, but the time periods as well. I think the setting was perfect for the telling of the Stephanides tale. It framed it well and brought it to life. The characters were charming, colorful and well developed. This is a story I will not soon forget. Rating: * (Outstanding)

It took awhile for me to be able to read books that touched upon the terror of September 11, 2001. The Usual Rules seemed like a good place to start, especially given the recommendations I had received saying the book was not to be missed. I identified with the main character, and not just because we share the same name.

The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard
St. Martin's Press, 2003 ~ Fiction, 390 pgs

There has been a lot of talk recently in the media about the literature that is emerging about the 9/11 tragedy, and The Usual Rules is listed as one of the most compelling novels that talks about the grieving process. The Usual Rules is the story of one teenage girl and her family who were directly impacted when her mother died in the terrorist attack against the World Trade Center in New York. Joyce Maynard introduces readers to thirteen-year-old Wendy who loves music and drawing and who finds comfort in books, what one person I know calls bibliotherapy. It is through Wendy that readers experience the terrible events that unfolded on 9/11 as well as the suffering and grief that she and those around her went through. This was a heart-wrenching novel that often had me in tears and wishing I could turn back the clock and undo what had been done. I finished reading this book feeling sad, and yet the strength and resilience people demonstrated both in the book and in real life during and after this tragedy give me hope and warm my heart. Rating: * (Very Good)

© 2011, 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.


  1. I also love Middlesex, though I didn't read it until this past year. It was very unexpected and overturned every prediction I made about it.

  2. MONKEEWRENCH is on my list of best mysteries I've read ever. I was constantly recommending it to patrons at the library. I loved MIDDLESEX, but don't think I read it until a couple of years after you. I've heard good things about THE USUAL RULES and I might even have a copy. I think that Les liked that one a lot. It's still on my TBR.

    I looked back and apparently I spent all of March 2005 reading several YA fantasy books by Tamora Pierce back to back. :-)

  3. It's been a really long time since I read Middlesex, though I do still have a copy on my shelf. Recently it has been getting a revival on the blogs, and everyone is loving it. It makes me think that I need to read it again. Thanks for the gentle nudge and reminder! Great mini-reviews. I love this format!

  4. I agree with you 100% about Middlesex, and am very excited that Jeffrey Eugenides will (finally!) have a new novel out this fall!

  5. Your post reminded me that I would like to read Middlesex...need to look this one up!!

  6. I listened to Middlesex on audio last year - it is truly amazingly good.

  7. I listened to audio in my pre blogging days! Not only was it an amazing story, the audio version is absolutely amazing, and is still one of my favourite audiobook experiences.

  8. Thank you everyone for your comments! I am glad to see so many of you also enjoyed Middlesex. There was much more too it than I expected when I read it, I admit. I'm looking forward to reading the author's next book.

    Kay - I love the Monkeewrench series. It's so much fun.

  9. I'm not even familiar with The Usual Rules. It looks like one I'd enjoy.

  10. I loved Middlesex, it's a terrific book. Jeffrey Eugenides is coming out with a new book which I'm looking forward to.

    The Usual Rules sounds very good. I haven't read anything by Joyce Maynard but I have read very good things about her books and her writing. Your review makes me very interested in reading this book. Thank you :o)

  11. I LOVED Middlesex as well. He has a new book out this fall...color me excited.

  12. Middlesex is one of those books that I've wanted to read for some time now. I feel like it has been on my TBR forever now. Thanks for sharing was fun to read these reviews!


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