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The Lonely Polygamist: A Novel
The Lonely Polygamist: A Novel
by Brady Udall
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.99
213 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One big, happy family, August 9, 2010
The beauty of Brady Udall's second novel, The Lonely Polygamist, is that, despite having four wives and more than 20 children, Golden Richards really is no different from anybody else.

Golden Richards, once thought to be the One Mighty and Strong by his fundamentalist Mormon church, struggles with remembering where he is going to sleep on a particular night, which child's recital or game he is due at, and with trying to feed his extra-large family while his construction business slowly dies. His problems are not unline anybody elses: they are just, like Golden himself, writ large.

The story begins with Golden working one his latest construction project, a brothel in Nevada, that, for obvious reasons, he must keep secret from his family and church. While working on the building, Golden meets the enchanting Huila, and begins to have feelings for her that do not fit within the regid confines of his beliefs. This conflict of the heart ultimately drives the story, which moves between heartbreaking family drama to hilarious over-the-top comedy with ease. Interspersed with the main story are the story of Golden's childhood and admittance into the church, the story of Tricia (wife #4), and the story of Rusty (the family terrorist), all of which move the story along nicely and flesh out Golden's larger than life family.

The Lonely Polygamist is a wonderful novel that will stay with you long after you have closed the back cover.

Anthropology of an American Girl: A Novel
Anthropology of an American Girl: A Novel
by Hilary Thayer Hamann
Edition: Hardcover
119 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been brilliant, July 20, 2010
Hilary Thayer Hamann's novel, Anthropology of an American Girl, could have my perfect book. It is a coming of age story, set in the late 70's and early 80's in New York City. It follows the experiences of Evie, who is, in many ways, a typical high school girl at the beginning of the novel, through her college years and into her young adulthood. Unfortunatley, while there are moments of beautiful lyrical writing in the book, it falls flat.

While Hamann's writing is gorgeous and lyrical in parts, the majority of the book feels like the rambling journals of a self-important teenager. Evie is beautiful, and she knows it, and she knows that every man in her high school (student or teacher) wants her. She struck me as very conceited, and could not muster an ounce of sympathy for her or for her story. Her boyfriend, Jack, is callous, nasty, and a complete loser, but is she loves him for his tragic hipness and his holier-than-thou attitude. The most sympathetic character in the first part is Katie, who is dealing with the deaths of both of her parents in a short time span, but she is just a background character. There is also almost no story here. I understand that the point of the novel is to follow Evie as she grows up and gains self-awarness, but the story is jumbled and jumps around so much that it is hard to tell the past from the present. It doesn't seem to go anywhere.

Anthropology of an American Girl could have been a wonderful novel. Hilary Thayer Hamann is obviously a very talented writer. But this book could have benefitted from a serious editor who could condense some of the rambling into a text that was more readable and flowed easier.

Insight GD Belgium 4/E (Insight Guide Belgium)
Insight GD Belgium 4/E (Insight Guide Belgium)
by Michaels Ellis
Edition: Paperback
35 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Good guide, easy to use, July 15, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
We took this book with us on our vacation to Belgium several years ago, and enjoyed using it very much. It is easy to use and the pictures are wonderful (especially when trying to orient yourself). The guide has a lot of historical and cultural notes, which made for fascinating reading on a bus or train to our next destination. Highly recommended.

The Passage: A Novel (Book One of The Passage Trilogy)
The Passage: A Novel (Book One of The Passage Trilogy)
by Justin Cronin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.81
331 used & new from $0.41

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vampires, Resurrected, July 15, 2010
Vampires, once the denizens of nightmares and terrors, have become...sissies. They sparkle and swoon, are "vegetarians" and love lonely mortal girls instead of killing them. In a word, they are weak. Gone are the good ol' days of Count Dracula, mercilessly preying on the citizens of London. Thank goodness, though, for Justin Cronin, who has resurrected the scary vampire.

Set in the very near future, The Passage is dystopian novel, a paranoid thriller, and a story of the triumph of human spirit and ingenuity. When government officials discover a virus that may lead to immortality (or the craving to kill all other humans), they do what any good government would do- test the virus on violent death row inmates. Red flags abound, and eventually, the test subjects become scariest blood suckers since Nosferatu. The only test subject who seems not be affected is Amy, a six year old girl, who may be humanity's only hope.

The vamps (or smokes, dracs, or any other number of names) eventually overtake the majority of the United States, killing wantonly and converting the dead into their undead minions. A few pockets of humanity survive, scattered far and wide and with no connection to the outside world. In these communities, laws are draconian and life is hard, but its better than being one of the legion of undead. They live the best (and only) way they know how, until Amy, a little older and a little immortal, walks into their compound and leads some of the villagers on a quest to save humanity.

As compelling as Cronin's story is, the best thing about this novel is the gorgeous, elegant writing. Novels, whether horror or literary fiction (or a combination of the two), should always be this well-written and engaging. Read The Passage to scare yourself silly or for a master class in how novels should be written. Either way, you won't be disappointed.

Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls
Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls
by Matt Ruff
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.04
110 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Multiple personality order, July 15, 2010
Andy Gage is only two years old, but his body looks older. Andy is really the front for the multiple personalities that reside in his head. Like an office manager, he handles the day-to-day trials that Andy goes through, and keeps the other personalities in check. He's good at his job, and manages to live a fairly normal, if isolated life. His ordinary life changes the day his one friend, Julie, introduces him to Penny, another multiple. Penny is not as well adapted as Andy, and struggles to lead a normal life. As Andy tries to help Penny "set her house in order", he begins to discover his own house isn't as sturdy as he thought. Thus begins his desperate struggle to find out who he really is, and why is he is the way he is. This book sounds convoluted, but is a surprisingly engaging and easy to read novel.

The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank
The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank
by Ellen Feldman
Edition: Hardcover
99 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars What might have been, July 15, 2010
The fate of Anne Frank and the people who hid with her and her family are well known. Of the eight people in hiding, only Otto Frank, Anne's father, survived the Holocaust. For many years, however, the fate of Peter, the son of Mr. And Mrs. van Daan, was lost. Historians have now found records that indicate that Peter died at Mauthausen-Gusen in 1945. When author Ellen Feldman visited the Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam, Holland, the curator did not know this and informed Ms. Feldman that Peter's fate was unknown. This led Feldman to write The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank, a beautifully written story about what Peter van Daan might have done with his life if he survived. Using Anne's diary as a starting point (where she wrote that Peter told her that if he survived he would re-invent himself and nobody would know who he was), the book follows Peter as he immigrates to America, starts a family, and re-invents himself for his new, American life. Everything is going smoothly until Otto Frank publishes Anne's diary. Forced to confront his own past, which he has hidden from everyone, including his family, Peter suffers a breakdown. The story is ultimately about a man coming to terms with his past, and learning to move forward into his future. This book is beautifully written, and is sure to keep readers interested until the end.

The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart (Borzoi Books)
The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart (Borzoi Books)
by Mathias Malzieu
Edition: Hardcover
30 used & new from $5.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magical, May 22, 2010
The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart is rather a hard book to describe. It is part fantasy, part romance, but not really either one. It is an allegory, a fairy story, and a bildungsroman all rolled into one. It feels like an old story even though it based on a rock album.

The story begins on the coldest day of the world in Edinburgh, Scotland. A midwife named Doctor Madeleine has just delivered a baby named Jack. It is so cold when he is born, that his heart freezes. To save him, Madeleine, who is a bit of mad-scientist, grafts a cuckoo-clock to Jack's heart to start it beating. This move ultimately saves his life.

Jack has an idyllic, if somewhat isolated, childhood in the home of Madeleine. He is brought up by the good doctor and a colorful cast of characters, including Ana and Luna, two of the city's downtrodden ladies, and Arthur, a former cop with a musical spine who sings "Oh When the Saints Go Marching In" everywhere he goes. Jack grows up aware of his handicap: Madeleine constantly admonishes him not to fall in love, as the strong emotion could damage his weak heart. It's only when Jack meets the young Andalucian singer Miss Acacia does he realize how true this might be.

Spurred by his love, Jack attempts to find "the little singer" at the local school, only to find that she has moved back to Grenada. While there, he makes an enemy of Joe, the meanest, toughest kid in the school, who also harbors an unending love for Miss Acacia. Following a violent fight, Jack steals away from Edinburgh in the middle of the night on a dangerous and exciting journey to find his one true love.

The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart attempts to show us how fragile our emotions can be, especially when we are young. It is ultimately a story of letting go and following heart, no matter how damaged it may be.

Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate)
Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate)
by Gail Carriger
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
77 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A Satisfying Sequel, May 22, 2010
Gail Carriger has written a satisyfing follow-up to her incredibly witty steampunk-fantasy-romance Soulless. Changeless opens after Alexia has married Conall, leader of the werewolf clan in London. They have not been married when Conall disappears to Scotland. His disappearance coincides with a mysterious plague that is rendering all supernaturals in the its area as merely mortal. Could the plague somehow be connected to Conall's former pack in Scotland?

Armed with a new and deadlier parasol, Alexia sets out for Scotland in a dirigible. With her friend Ivy (and her hats), her half-sister, and a mysterious French haberdasher in tow, she seek her husband, and a cure for the mysterious plague.

Will she find Conall? Will Ivy find an appropiate hat? And who will teach those Scottish werewolves some decent table manners? Most importantly, how can she stop this devasting plague?

Carriger's Changeless will keep flipping ahead to follow Alexia's madcap adventures. With humor and wit, this series is unlike any other vampire and werewolves series you've read before.

The Time Traveler's Wife
The Time Traveler's Wife
DVD ~ Rachel McAdams
Offered by CAC Media
Price: $3.52
267 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, not earth-shattering, April 6, 2010
This review is from: The Time Traveler's Wife (DVD)
"The Time Traveler's Wife" is your typical tear-jerker romance. Think about every Nicholas Sparks adaption you've ever seen or any movie where one of the main characters has a chronic, life-threatening disease. Because essentially, that's what this movie is: the ins and outs of a relationship in which one partner is afflicted with a devasting illness.

Henry, played by Eric Bana, is a special collections librarian who has a unique and devasting illness: he randomly travels through time. He has no control about when or where it happens, or when or where he ends up. Clare, played by Rachel McAdams, is the girl that the future Henry has been visiting since Clare was a little girl. When Clare and Henry finally meet in Henry's present (they've previously met in Clare's past and Henry's future), they begin a typical Hollywood romance complete with tossed sheets and fights that involve one or both parties storming out, only to be brought back togther to make up within five minutes.

That said, without the time traveling, this is yet another Hollywood weepy-romance. The only shock is seeing Eric Bana naked from behind when he pops into the past/present/future. And like every other Hollywood weepy-romance, it is entertaining enough for you to see it once, but not necessarily something you feel compelled to view repeatedly.

My advice: read the book. Audrey Niffeneger has written a story that is not really like this movie at all.

The Swimming Pool
The Swimming Pool
by Holly LeCraw
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.95
101 used & new from $0.01

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but not original, April 6, 2010
This review is from: The Swimming Pool (Hardcover)
The Swimming Pool is billed as an ideal beach book: fast-paced, yet literary; action-packed, but with domestic drama. And in many ways it is. But just like most beach books, there is nothing in this book that you can't get in another book.

The story is told from several points of view, and shifts its focus from the past to the present with ease. The story starts with Marcella, a divorced mother of a college student, finding out that her daughter Toni is going to nanny for the summer. She discover that the famiyl she is working for is none other the that of the daughter of her former lover Cecil, who died years ago in a car crash. Cecil's wife Betsy had died just befoe him in a mysterious murder that has never been solved. This, along with an unexpected visit from Cecil and Betsy's son Jed, bring back years of supressed memories about her affair, her daughter, and her ex-husband.

Despite the tantalizing mystery that forms the heart of this story, that mystery is only the catalyst for the action and really has no bearing on the story whatsoever. Betsy, who is a outside character at best, could have died in a myriad of ways, and the action could have been same. The torrid relationship between Marcella and Jed felt forced and unrealistic.

This was not a "bad" book, though. Lecraw's writing can be gorgeous at times. The story will appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult (I intially chose this novel because it sounded similar to Picoult's novels) who love her domestic dramas, but would prefer not to have the courtroom scenes played out in such detail. The story is page-turning, and it moves at a nice pace.

So, could this be your perfect beach read? Maybe...but if you have read other "perfect beach reads," don't be shocked when you don't find anything new.

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