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Always Doing

Escapist reading for those who are always doing.

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Mari Fujimura, 藤村真理

Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye (Psychic Eye Series #1)

Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye - Victoria Laurie I picked this book hoping for a quirky cozy mystery but ended up in romantic suspense hell.Abby Cooper is a psychic intuitive that can call on her spirit guides for advice and wisdom. She uses her ability to run a successful business advising people on everything from cheating lovers to financial matters. I like the general idea of a psychic but man, she was spot on all the time. Any little tidbit Abby spit out would be verified sooner or later, allowing her an "I told you so" smile. In this vein many times Abby would do a reading for someone she thought didn't believe her. A simple, "...and you should get that knee checked out, the next time you lift something heavy it's going to pop" would have sufficed but no, she had to tell them about their wives and daughters and upcoming vacations. Always right, always on the nose, often annoying. In fact, the only time she ran into trouble was when she didn't listen to her "crew"... they're infallible, of course.That time she didn't pick up the "intuitive phone", along with any other fishy happening, felt like it had a neon sign with "THIS IS FORESHADOWING!" painted on top. Grah.A few lines that bugged me:"I looked at the painted decal on the back hood." Hoods are in the front. Trunks and tailgates are in the back. Decals and stickers are usually put on by owners, insignia and logos by the maker."I knew immediately that I'd have to tip the mailman extra big come Christmas." Postal workers are federal employees and are legally obligated not to accept cash tips over $20. Getting some extra nice chocolate or maybe knitting a pair of convertible mittens would be fine, but not an extra big tip."In my next lifetime I wanted to come back as a guy. They always seemed to get the upper hand." No irony, no nothing. And I haven't even gotten into the romantic or suspense bits. Abby goes on a date with a guy she met online who happens to be a cop. Of course, Dutch ends up being the lead investigator of a case that ends up falling into her lap. If he ends up doing anything Abby perceives as less than perfect she storms off, vows she's done with him, and screams like holy hell the next time they meet. Yet he is still attracted to her. I don't get it, either.As for the mystery surrounding an apparent suicide, Abby's leads us via one perfect hunch after another to the bad guy. I felt zero suspense because the perfect spirit guides would never let her fail. Don't they get annoyed with her, too? Wouldn't they want to slip her a bum piece of info about something trivial and have a good laugh? I would, but maybe that's why I'm not a spirit guide.Not bad enough to abandon halfway through, but also not deserving of more than one star.

The Name of the Star (Shades of London Series #1)

The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson Wow, what a ride! A gripping, funny, steam train of a book that holds on and doesn't let go. Two quips knocked a star off -- Lack of depth... but I find this in nearly all YA novels, so whatever.- Heroine as bait. Maybe I'm over sensitive after watching The Vampire Diaries, but this is a plot device that will piss me off every time.All in all it's an insanely fun read. Maureen Johnson is my newest guilty pleasure!
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading - Nina Sankovitch Many "stunt" memoirs are about doing a crazy, unsustainable thing - making every recipe from a huge cookbook, living to the letter of the Bible, going without or making do with.Nina Sankovitch makes it clear from the beginning that she will not fail. For her reading a book a day for an entire year isn't a trial, but an escape and path to healing after the loss of her sister. By giving herself permission to take a year "off" and simplify her life she finds what she was looking for... and what she was running from.If I found this book at a different point in my life - after a profound loss of my own, say - it would have been more meaningful. I live on the other side of the world from my family and have no sisters nor kids of my own, making it hard for me to identify with much of what Sankovitch talks about. Even so I was left misty eyed repeatedly... not good when you're reading in a restaurant. But hey, at least it wasn't crowded. This would be a great read for someone that's looking to restart their life after a death of a loved one. While many works are mentioned if you're itching for book on book action you'll probably be disappointed.
The Passage - Justin Cronin There's 300 great pages in this book - 100 at the beginning, 100 in the middle, and 100 right at the end. For most novels that would be perfect. For the 776 page The Passage, however, it leaves much to slog through.Don't get me wrong, they're 300 really good pages. The world Cronin sets up is contained yet massive, crazy yet believable. The mystery kept me going but a third of the way through the whole thing goes POOF and we're forced to restart with a ton of new characters in a completely different setting. I was so disgusted that I put the book down for a day, too demoralized to pick it back up.I liked that:- The women were often on equal footing with the men in the later sections of the book. One of the female characters ended up doing most of the driving (gasp) and the best fighter was a woman. I felt like each person in the group filled what role fit them best regardless of gender.- Gender wasn't ignored. In a post-apocalyptic world with few humans fertile females are a commodity, no getting around it.- The end was tied up neatly but let you know where the next book is headed.I didn't like:- How Amy was treated later in the book, after everyone realizes she's 100 years old. They still treat her as a kid. Even after she starts talking again they don't ask her for her opinion on what they should do next. Why would you let a font of potential wisdom like that go untapped?- The sheer number of characters dumped on you a third of the way through. I still don't feel like I have everyone straight.- At times the action scenes were confusing. One with moving vehicles in particular left me confused as to who was doing what where.Part of me says this book should be a four star read for its "literary value" (whatever that is), but the fact that I had to drag myself to the page more often than not makes it a three.

Ready Player One

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline A lightning fast, highly entertaining read, Cline's homage to 80s culture jerks you this way and that through a disturbing dystopia. The world is engrossing and the fast-paced plot leaves little time to breathe. While I'll gush about this book to my friends I'm only giving it four stars because I don't see myself rereading it.
The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World - Chris Guillebeau There's nothing particularly earth shattering in this book but it's written in an accessible, motivating voice. Guillebeau is upfront about what he is (a frugal world traveler, an entrepreneur) and what he's not (perfect, a guru) in a way that's refreshing and approachable. Some ideas will work for everyone but creative types who like to travel will get the most out of this book. While I fall into the former group Guillebeau got me thinking about what kind of "legacy" I'd like to leave - never a bad thing.

In a Sunburned Country

In a Sunburned Country - Bill Bryson Bill Bryson is an amazing writer, but hopefully you already knew that. He can make an info dump funny and insightful in turns. His failures (to swim, to find a hotel, to walk from point A to B unharmed) are told in hilarious self-deprecating detail. I enjoyed every minute I spent with Bryson and look forward to reading more of his books.That being said it took me quite a while to get through this tale. I'm in the middle of a reading slump at the moment and the episodic nature of his travels made it too easy to put the book down and forget to pick it up. *~shrug~*
Moon Called - Patricia Briggs I love Mercy. She's my favorite kind of hero - smart, strong, and just plain ol' awesome. I kept thinking she resembled (early) Anita Blake because she's in on the action but a different kind of paranormal than everyone else.If the grade were just for Mercy I'd give five stars, but we have a whole story here. While things started off strong and built up through the middle nicely I felt the ending was anti-climatic. There was a lot of talking and no good knockdown drag out fight like I was hoping for. I am very excited to continue this series, though.
Anyone But You - Jennifer Crusie I needed a mindless but charming read and this fit the bill. A little too category for me - a huge misunderstanding is the crux of the problem - but still a fun book.

The Elite (The Selection, #2)

The Elite - Kiera Cass Three hundred pages of treading water. The love triangle doesn't budge, the rebels keep coming, and the world isn't built out any more. A mindless read was good after my last (intense) novel... but this was a little too mindless.


Blindness - José Saramago, Giovanni Pontiero Wow.That's all I can say right now, wow. This quote from the last page sums up everything, somehow:"I don't think we did go blind, I think we are blind, Blind but seeing, Blind people who can see, but do not see."And I shall leave it at that.
All You Need to Be Impossibly French: A Witty Investigation into the Lives, Lusts, and Little Secrets of French Women - Helena Frith Powell Enh. This book rarely moves past, "French women care about their looks! Have a different cultural outlook on affairs! Buy all kinds of beauty products!" Yes, things are a bit different in France. We get it.In order to give a book a two a book has to make me mad, so this is a very, very low three stars.
French Women Don't Get Fat - Mireille Guiliano Mireille Guiliano's un-system for getting thin is simple - look at what you eat, get rid of the worst offenders, cook your own food, take advantage of seasonal items, and enjoy indulgences while making sure to offset them elsewhere. All changes are to be made slowly over time so they don't feel like a burden.I found it interesting that much of the advice given here lined up with what my (extremely fit and healthy) Japanese mother-in-law tells me: eat rice, just not too much. As you get older you must move more. How clothes fit and look is more important than a number on a scale. Some points differ (water vs green tea, for example) but when two completely different cultures hit on the same idea there must be something to it. I'm a fan.

A Week in Winter

A Week in Winter - Maeve Binchy I wasn't sure going in if I would like this book but the simple character studies won me over. The action revolves around Stone House, a residence turned hotel in western Ireland. Each character, from the staff to the guests, gets their own chapter that advances the story by a day or so. I liked that we learned only the bare essentials about each person but it didn't feel thin or rushed. The women characters are all strong in their own way, be it leaving home against their family's wishes or carving out a life that suits them instead of caving in to their peers. I'll keep Binchy in mind the next time I want a quaint, cozy read.

I Am America (And So Can You!)

I am America (And So Can You!) - Peter Grosz, Rob Dubbin, Eric Drydale, Michael Brumm, Allison Silverman, Tom Purcell, Frank Lesser, Laura Krafft, Jay Katsir, Richard Dahm, Glenn Eichler, Peter Gwinn, Paul Dinello, Stephen Colbert I find that satire is best consumed in spurts, but the shout-y nature of Colbert's self-named character made this book more tiresome than most.The good: Margin notes act like the "The Word" on his tv show, providing counterpoint and insight. The footnotes were often funny. Colbert is good at getting down to a sharp satirical point and I loved those moments.The bad: I read a kindle edition from my library and the margin notes were interspersed throughout the main text, interrupting flow. While a lot of fun is made of advertising in American culture it is done through what looks like actual advertising. Why else would there be a random picture of Colbert in front of an Applebee's? Interesting and disturbing at the same time.

Infinite Jest: A Novel

Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace Note to self - review that got me interested: http://literary-exploration.com/2013/04/12/book-review-infinite-jest/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=book-review-infinite-jest